West African bloc lifts sanctions against Guinea, Mali

First row, L-R: Senegal President Macky Sall, President of Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara, President of Economic Community of West African States Commission (ECOWAS), Omar Touray, President of Nigeria and Chairman, ECOWAS, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Togo President Faure Gnassingbe, Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, Second Row L-R: Vice President of The Gambia, Muhammad B. S. Jallow, Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio, Republic of Benin President, Patrice Talon, and Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, after the extraordinary session of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government in Abuja, Nigeria on February 24, 2024. ECOWAS announced on February 24, 2024 that they have lifted the sanctions on Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The bloc imposed sanctions following military coups in the countries between 2020 and 2023.

Lagos. West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS said Sunday it was easing sanctions imposed on Guinea and Mali, a day after announcing a similar decision for Niger, another country under military rule.

The bloc imposed sanctions following military coups in the countries between 2020 and 2023.

ECOWAS said it was lifting financial and economic sanctions against Guinea and ending restrictions on the recruitment of Malians to professional positions within the bloc's institutions.

The measures concerning Guinea and Mali, while decided during Saturday's emergency summit, were not mentioned during the closing speech by ECOWAS Commission chief Omar Alieu Touray but appear in the bloc's closing statement.

ECOWAS has suspended all three countries -- and Burkina Faso -- from membership of the bloc because of the military takeovers there.

The bloc banned financial transactions with its member institutions in Guinea after Colonel Mamady Doumbouya ousted president Alpha Conde in 2021.

Economic and financial sanctions on Mali, which underwent coups in 2020 and 2021, were lifted in 2022 after the military announced a timetable for a transition back to civilian rule.

A no-fly zone, border closures and asset freezes against Niger were among the measures lifted on Saturday on "humanitarian grounds", after last year's coup that overthrew elected leader Mohamed Bazoum. Political and individual sanctions remain in place, however.

The ECOWAS move signals a desire to renew dialogue with military regimes among its members after Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso announced their intention to leave the bloc.

The three countries have formed an alliance, severed ties with traditional security partner France and forged closer relations with Russia, which is seeking greater influence in Africa.

At the start of Saturday's emergency heads of state summit in Abuja, Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had said: "We must re-examine our current approach to the quest for constitutional order in four of our member states."

Nigeria currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ECOWAS.