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Gowon calls on ECOWAS to lift all sanctions on Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso

Former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Dr. Yakubu Gowon GCFR, has called on the Economic Community of West African States…

Former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Dr. Yakubu Gowon GCFR, has called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lift all sanctions imposed on Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger following the unconstitutional change of government in the three countries.
While noting that Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were three important Member States, he equally called on them to withdraw their notices to leave ECOWAS.
Gowon, the surviving Founding Leader of ECOWAS, made this call in an open letter to the regional bloc which he presented to Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission on Wednesday in Abuja.
“On behalf of all the founding fathers of the Community and myself, I urge the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to put aside their differences and reunite for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region.
“I call on all West African leaders to immediately consider the implementation of the following: lifting of all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger; withdrawal by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger of their notices to leave ECOWAS; and participation of all 15 ECOWAS Heads of State in a Summit to discuss the future of the community, regional security and stability, as well as the role of the international community given the current geopolitical context.
“I wish to once more reiterate to regional leaders that ECOWAS is more than a coalition of States, it is a community established for the good of our peoples, based on shared history, culture and tradition. Neither my generation nor present or future generations will understand or forgive the breakup of our Community,” he said.
He said as one of the founders of the regional economic community, it was incumbent upon him to speak on behalf of the 14 Heads of State and Government who joined him in Lagos, on 27th May 1975, to establish ECOWAS.
Gowon said that, since its inception, the regional bloc had made a number of major accomplishments, including trade liberalisation, the right of West Africans to live legitimately in any country within the Community, as well as successful peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The former Head of State urged all other elders in the sub-region to join him in the campaign to immediately restore unity and shared purpose within ECOWAS.
He expressed his readiness for further engagements to ensure that the Community remains united.
Receiving the letter, President of the ECOWAS Commission, assured the elder statesman that he would send the letter to all ECOWAS Heads of State.
“Your message is a profound one. I take note of your appeal and recommendations.
“An extraordinary summit has been scheduled to take place in Abuja on Saturday. The heads of state will consider your message in their discussion,” he assured.
The military regimes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger January 28, announced their withdrawal from the West African bloc ECOWAS.
All three had earlier been suspended following military coups that overthrew elected civilian governments.
The three countries have faced ongoing jihadist violence and have experienced military coups since 2020.
Their new military leaders have also accused former colonial power France of instrumentalising ECOWAS.
They have pushed out French ambassadors and forces while turning politically and militarily towards Moscow.
The ECOWAS “withdrawal provides us with an opportunity to achieve real fraternity… without any outside interference or manipulation,” said Mali’s Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga.
Coulibaly added that ECOWAS “has turned away from its main objective of serving the people”.
“Our decision to withdraw is irreversible,” he said.

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