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WADEMOS Network Commends ECOWAS for Repealing Sanctions; Calls on Sahelian States to Reciprocate the Gesture

The West Africa Democracy Solidarity Network (WADEMOS), a network of pro-democracy national and transnational civil society organizations operating in the West African region, welcomes the decision taken by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS during its extraordinary summit held in Abuja on February 24, 2024, to lift sanctions imposed on countries undergoing political transitions.

The Network also expresses its profound concern over recent political occurrences in the West African sub-region, particularly the announcement of the immediate withdrawal of the Alliance of Sahel States (Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso), three of the four transition countries, from ECOWAS on January 28, 2024. 

We, however, believe the decision by ECOWAS to reexamine its approach to restoring constitutional order, particularly by lifting sanctions imposed on military states, marks a new push for dialogue aimed at resolving the impasse with the Sahelian States and averting their threatened exit from ECOWAS. Nevertheless, we implore ECOWAS to steadfastly uphold its foundational principles and tirelessly promote democratic values and institutions across the region.

In light of this development, we call upon the military-led governments to reciprocate this gesture by demonstrating a greater willingness to engage in dialogue and realign with the transition process rather than resorting to actions that will lead to fragmentation and isolation from the sub-regional bloc. We are concerned that a complete exit would have far-reaching consequences involving political, institutional, socio-economic, and financial implications for their citizens, as well as undermine the very essence of ECOWAS’ interconnectedness as a people and the shared spirit of Pan-Africanism and unity upon which the organization was founded.

We condemn the abuse and violation of dissenting voices and free speech, including internet shutdowns and civic space restrictions, in countries under military rule and call on the military leaders to respect and uphold the fundamental human rights, civil liberties, and freedoms of citizens. These abuses have effectively frozen genuine political activities, inclusion, and discourse required for a successful transition. 

WADEMOS remains committed to the ideals of an integrated, prosperous, and democratic political environment in West Africa.


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