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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court has dismissed Niger’s junta’s plea to lift sanctions imposed by neighboring nations in response to the unconstitutional coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July.

The swift response from ECOWAS included border closures, suspension of financial transactions, and freezing of assets, with Nigeria going so far as to sever power supplies responsible for 70% of Niger’s electricity.

Challenging these measures at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, Niger’s de facto government and various entities argued that the sanctions were inflicting severe hardships, particularly affecting the availability of food and medicine.

Seeking a provisional halt to the sanctions pending a final judgment, the junta faced a decisive ruling on Thursday. Justice Dupe Atoki categorically labeled the junta as a product of an “unconstitutional change of government” and underscored its unrecognized status within the regional bloc. Consequently, the request for provisional measures in Niger’s name was deemed inadmissible.

This legal setback adds complexity to ongoing efforts to resolve Niger’s political crisis and reinstate civilian rule. Despite the junta appointing a prime minister, ECOWAS firmly rejected the proposed three-year timeline for a return to civilian leadership.

Acting as a mediator, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé visited Niger on Thursday, ahead of an ECOWAS summit in Abuja on Sunday. The summit is poised to address the Niger coup and other political crises in West Africa.

Adding another layer of complexity, Niger’s ousted president, Bazoum, remains detained by the junta. ECOWAS has explicitly demanded his unconditional release and reinstatement before engaging in discussions regarding the removal of sanctions.

The ECOWAS court’s ruling raises pertinent questions about the future trajectory of Niger’s political landscape and the ongoing diplomatic standoff between the junta and regional powers advocating for a swift return to constitutional governance. The upcoming summit serves as a critical platform for dialogue and negotiation amid these pressing regional concerns.

By: Montel Kamau
Serrari Financial Analyst
7th December, 2023

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