West Africa’s regional bloc, ECOWAS, announced on 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 Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government made these decisions at its just-ended extraordinary summit, convened in the Nigerian capital Abuja to discuss the Political, Peace and Security situation in the ECOWAS sub-region.
The meeting, chaired by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria, was attended by President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Patrice Talon of the Benin Republic, President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, President Umaro Embalo Siseco of Guinea-Bissau, President Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo, President Macky Sall of Senegal and President James Madaa Bio of Sierra Leone. The Gambia was represented by Vice President Muhammad Jallow, Cabo Verde and Liberia by their ambassadors in Abuja.

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 allied, 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 said the community must re-examine its current approach to the quest for constitutional order in the four member states.

Nigeria currently holds the rotating chairmanship of ECOWAS

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