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Niger: ECOWAS Plans Fresh Sanctions on Burkina Faso, Mali, UN Talks Fail

The Economic Community of West African States has imposed heavier financial sanctions on the Niger junta and entities supporting them including the governments of Mali and Burkina Faso.

The development came after a diplomatic mission by the African Union, ECOWAS, United Nations and the United States to resolve the political impasse in Niger hit a brick wall on Tuesday as the military junta refused to grant audience to the delegations.

The military leaders also snubbed the Acting US Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, and denied her access to the coup leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani and ousted President, Muhammed Bazoum, who was being held in the presidential palace.

Some military officers led by Tchiani overthrew Bazoum on July 26 leading to a flurry of sanctions imposed on Niger by ECOWAS to compel them to restore the ousted president to power.

On Tuesday, presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, told journalists in Abuja that more sanctions had been imposed on the individuals and entities relating with the military junta.

The joint AU, ECOWAS and UN delegation planned a trip to Niamey to negotiate with the junta ahead of the Thursday summit of ECOWAS but the military officers denied permission to enter Niger to the delegation, according to a letter circulated on social media whose authenticity was confirmed by a Niger army spokesman.

Announcing the latest round of sanctions in Abuja on Tuesday, Ngelale said the latest prohibition was targeted at individuals and entities relating with the military junta in Niger Republic.

 Although he did not go into details, he said the restriction was carried out through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

 He stated, “I can also report that following the expiration of the deadline of the ultimatum and standing on the pre-existing consensus position of financial sanctions meted out on the military junta in Niger Republic by the bloc of ECOWAS Heads of State, President Bola Tinubu has ordered an additional slew of financial sanctions through the Central Bank of Nigeria on entities and individuals related to or involved with the military junta in Niger Republic.

“The ECOWAS mandate and ultimatum is not a Nigerian ultimatum. It is not a Nigerian mandate and the office of the President, also serving as the chairman of ECOWAS, seeks to emphasise this point that due to certain domestic and international media coverage, tending toward personalisation of the ECOWAS sub-regional position to his person and our nation individually.

 “It is because of this that Mr President has deemed it necessary to state unequivocally that the mandate and ultimatum issued by ECOWAS is that of ECOWAS position. While President Bola Tinubu has assumed the ECOWAS chairmanship, the position of ECOWAS conveys the consensus position of member Heads of State. And a coup will not occur in one’s backyard, without one being particularly aware of it.”

The fresh sanctions by ECOWAS on the Niger Republic apply to Mali and Burkina Faso, a presidency source revealed to The PUNCH on Tuesday.

“They (Burkina Faso and Mali) are included in the ECOWAS sanction. It affects any and every entity that is doing business with the Niger Republic. There is no hidden meaning to that, it’s clear,” the source who didn’t want to be mentioned told our correspondent.

Meanwhile, Ngelale explained that Tinubu had consulted extensively in the past few days following the expiration of the one-week ultimatum issued to the junta to hand over power to the deposed president.

He added, “The President in recent days, particularly following the expiration of the ultimatum given by ECOWAS, has widened consultations internationally but most especially domestically, including interfaces with state governors in Nigeria, who govern states bordering Niger Republic on the various fallouts and outcomes of the unfortunate situation that has unfolded in Niger Republic.

 “But President Bola Tinubu wishes to emphasise to this distinguished audience that the response of ECOWAS to the military coup in Niger has been and will remain devoid of ethnic and religious sentiments and considerations.

 “The regional bloc is made up of all sub-regional ethnic groups, religious groups, and all other forms of human diversity. And the response of ECOWAS, therefore, represents all of these groups, and not any of these groups individually.”

Intervention snubbed

Reuters reports that the letter said popular anger among Niger’s citizens over sanctions imposed by ECOWAS in response to the coup made it impossible to host the envoys safely and denounced “a climate of threatened aggression against Niger.”

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