Gowon calls on ECOWAS to remove sanctions against Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso

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Yakubu Gowon, a former head of state of Nigeria and one of the ECOWAS’s founding fathers, has recommended that the regional bloc should withdraw the sanctions against Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Niger Republic.

Gowon made an appeal on Wednesday to the presidents of state and the member nations of ECOWAS in an open letter.

The main political and regional body in West Africa, ECOWAS, was established in 1975 to encourage economic integration among its member nations. However, in recent years, the organization has had difficulty undoing a wave of military coups in the area, which included those in Mali in 2020 and 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in 2023.

During a press conference in Abuja, Gowon delivered the letter to Omar Touray, the President of the ECOWAS Commission. Gowon expressed concern that the announcement by Burkina Faso, Mali, and the Niger Republic to leave ECOWAS poses a threat to the bloc’s unity and has significant implications for common citizens.

Following a military coup in Niger in 2023, the eight members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the fifteen members of the bloc (barring the four members suspended since coming under military rule—Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Niger) decided to freeze the nation’s assets in foreign banks, close all borders with the country, and cease all financial transactions.

According to twiscoloaded, on January 28, 2023, the military chiefs of Burkina Faso, Mali, and the Niger Republic, Brig. Gen. Abdourahamane Tiani and Capt. Ibrahim Traoré, respectively, declared the creation of the Alliance of Sahel States and their withdrawal from ECOWAS.

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Gowon expressed his sadness at learning that ECOWAS is in danger of becoming divided after three significant members—Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger—announced their intention to leave the organization.

“Many ordinary citizens who have benefited greatly from regional integration will be profoundly impacted by such a decision.”

Gowon urged the ECOWAS authorities to take the “lifting of all sanctions” that have been placed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Niger into prompt consideration.

In addition, he urged Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso to revoke their withdrawal notices from ECOWAS.

Gowon also demanded that the 15 Heads of State of the ECOWAS meet and discuss the future of the region.

Therefore, Gowon urged the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, which includes the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, to set aside their differences and come together for the peace, stability, and prosperity of their subregion. He spoke on behalf of all the founding fathers of the community as well as himself.

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