Real Reasons ECOWAS Lifted Sanctions on Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger

On Saturday the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) lifted its months long economic sanctions on Niger, Mali and Burkina-Faso with immediate effect.

The decision followed long hours of deliberations by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at an extraordinary summit that dwelt on the political, peace, and security threats in the region which held at the State House, Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

Dr. Omar Touray, the President of the ECOWAS Commission made the announcement to newsmen after the meeting. Touray said the move was “based on humanitarian considerations due to lent and the approaching month of Ramadan.”

Also, the ECOWAS president revealed that the sanctions had to be lifted in order for the regional bloc to continue to enjoy a $500 million support project funded by the world bank.

In a news briefing,  Dr Omar Touray listed the reasons behind the immediate lifting of the sanctions to include the following:

“The authority takes note that the withdrawal will have political, social, socio-economic, financial, and institutional implications for the three countries as well as for ECOWAS as a region

“The authority recalls that within the framework of regional cooperation against terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime, the three countries benefited from about 100 million US dollars mobilised by UMR within the context of the ECOWAS plan of action against terrorism.

“Moreover, some funds allocation, about 7.5 million US dollars is being made towards supporting the three countries in acquiring the equipment to help their fight against terrorism.

“The withdrawal will affect security cooperation in terms of sharing intelligence and participation in regional counterterrorism initiatives

“Such as the Accra initiative and the Multinational Joint Task Force.”

Speaking further, Touray  said that sustaining the sanctions would lead to diplomatic and political isolation on the international scene where the countries have obtained support for their candidates in the contest for international positions.

According to him, “The authority recognises that the withdrawal will automatically affect the immigration status of the citizens, as they may be required to obtain visas to travel around the region.

“Citizens may no longer be able to reside or set up businesses under ECOWAS arrangement and may be subject to diverse national laws.

“The authority recognises that the three-member states represent 17.4 per cent of the region’s 425 million population

“even though they represent 10 per cent of the region’s GDP, their departure will constitute a reduction in the market size of ECOWAS

“The regional support programme for powerful pastoralism in the Sahel, which is being funded by the World Bank to the tune of 215 million US dollars is also a project that benefits the three countries.

“The three countries also benefit from the Sahel regional irrigation support programme, which is being funded by the World Bank to the tune of 103 million US dollars.

“The three regional food systems resilient support programme in the amount of 230 million, funded by the World Bank is also benefiting the three countries.

“West African single identity and regional integration and inclusion project is another programme that the three countries benefit from.”


The ECOWAS President revealed that other projects the countries benefit from are the ECOWAS regional electricity market, and the West African Power Pool project, which links member states to a regional electricity grid for improved access to electricity.

He said not lifting the sanction would result in the halt or the suspension of all ECOWAS projects and programmes worth more than 500 million US dollars

“Reviewing the implications at the institutional level, the authority notes that the withdrawal will not only require the closure of four regional entities in Burkina Faso, two regional bodies in Mali, and one regional office in Asia.

“It will also affect the job security of some 130 ECOWAS staff who are citizens of the three countries. Currently, 77 staff members are from Burkina Faso, 23 are from Mali, and 32 are from Niger.”

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger stood their ground

Despite the reasons given by the ECOWAS President, a high- ranking diplomatic source told FACTSHEET that the three Francophone countries stood their ground against ECOWAS maintaining that they could move on without the regional bloc.

Niger for instance declared a no-fly-zone in their airspace which had direct impact on flights originating in Nigeria to Europe-a major route critical to Nigeria aviation services.

Also, the issue of building a dam across the River Niger was also being mulled among the three countries, this according to the diplomatic source was going to pose a serious immediate problems to Nigeria’s floundering power sector.

Similarly, the Francophone countries was already planning a Francophone economic bloc to counter ECOWAS membership of other Francophone nations.






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