Nigeria's president Bola Tinubu is the chair of ECOWAS. Photo: Nigerian Presidency/X

West Africa’s regional bloc known as ECOWAS has lifted travel, commercial and economic sanctions imposed on Niger that were aimed at reversing the coup staged in the country last year, a senior official announced Saturday.

ECOWAS says it is lifting sanctions in a new push for dialogue.

''The sanctions will be lifted with immediate effect, the president of the ECOWAS Commission,'' Omar Alieu Touray said after the bloc’s meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, that aimed to address existential threats facing the region as well as implore three junta-led nations that have quit the bloc to rescind their decision.

The lifting of the sanctions on Niger is “on purely humanitarian grounds” to ease the suffering caused as a result, Touray told reporters. “There are targeted (individual) sanctions as well as political sanctions that remain in force,” he added.

Calls to reverse sanctions

This week, one of the bloc’s founding leaders and Nigeria’s former military ruler Yakubu Gowon urged regional leaders to lift those sanctions, noting that the bloc is “more than a coalition of states (but) is a community established for the good of our people.”

ECOWAS has struggled to stem disintegration following recent surge in coups fueled by discontent over the performance of elected governments whose citizens barely benefit from mineral-rich resources.

The nine coups in West and Central Africa since 2020 followed a similar pattern, with coup leaders accusing governments of failing to provide security and good governance. Most of the coup-hit countries are also among the poorest and least developed in the world.

“We must reexamine our current approach to the quest for constitutional order in our member states,” Nigerian President Bola Tinubu and current chairman of ECOWAS said at the start of the summit.

“I therefore urge them to reconsider the decision of the three of them to exit their home and not to perceive our organization as the enemy,” he added.

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TRT Afrika and agencies