Ex-ECOWAS President urges leaders to lift sanctions on Mali, B/Faso, Niger

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Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, pioneer President, ECOWAS Commission, has urged the bloc’s leaders to lift the sanctions slammed on Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Republic following the military coups in the countries.

Chambas, currently the African Union’s (AU) High Representative for ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa,’ made the call in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday.

Speaking ahead of the ECOWAS Summit slated for Abuja during the weekend, he also called on Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger military leaders to withdraw their threat to exit from the sub-regional bloc.

He called on all stakeholders in the West African sub-region to heed the recent call of former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), to end the prevailing conflicts and unite the people in the area.

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“I very heartily join Gen. Gowon’s appeal for the lifting of sanctions and also appeal to the three countries that are threatening to withdraw from ECOWAS to, indeed, come back to the fold.

“They haven’t quit yet because the ECOWAS Protocols are there. They know it and the protocols have to be followed for any country to withdraw.

“So I can only call it at this point, a threat and I think that with Gowon himself stepping in, they should heed his appeal.

“ECOWAS Heads of State too should listen to Gen. Gowon’s appeal and reach out to these three countries for them to reconsider their threats to withdraw from ECOWAS because we are stronger united than divided.

“And the time is now for ECOWAS to come together,” Chambas said.

The former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel stressed the need for ECOWAS member states to stand together to face the challenges that have been bedeviling the sub-region.

“No one denies that we are facing some serious challenges. But we can overcome them and we can only overcome these challenges united, and not divided,” he added.

Chambas lauded the pioneering and visionary role of Gowon in the establishment of ECOWAS nearly 50 years ago and described him as the Founder of ECOWAS, whose legacy should be protected by its current leaders.

“The remaining 15 members of ECOWAS will all be there to participate in this celebration of its 50th anniversary.

“Now, I think that this is exactly what is motivating Gen Gowon as he cannot just sit there idly watching, so to speak, as ECOWAS disintegrates.

“The people of West Africa, which in his words, are a ‘community of peoples sharing the history, culture, and tradition,’ are one common people in West Africa.

“And it is for this reason that he expressed deep concern and sadness.

“All other elders should join him in his campaign to immediately restore ECOWAS’ unity and shared purpose,” he said.

Chambas also expressed confidence in ECOWAS under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu in its ability to effectively articulate the conflict during the Abuja summit to be held during the weekend, and find sustainable solutions.

He said that at the summit, President Tinubu should be able to get his colleagues to lift what he described as the “crippling sanctions” on Mali and others, and the freezing of these countries’ bank accounts in the central bank of West African francophone countries.

“Let me say that President Bola Tinubu’s democratic credentials need not be proved because all his life, he has stood on the side of democracy.

“His personal experiences are also a testimony.

“We also know President Tinubu to be a practical person and politician, who has his ideals and principles and will do what is necessary to keep ECOWAS united.

“I’m aware that he is already working actively with the ECOWAS President, Dr Omar Touré, to ensure that every diplomatic step is taken to keep ECOWAS united,” Chambas said.(NAN)

By Mark Longyen

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