France backs ECOWAS decision on Mali, Niger, B/Faso – Envoy

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French Charge d’Affairs to Nigeria, Jean-Francois Hasperue speaking in an interview at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) headquarters, on Friday, in Abuja.

By Mark Longyen

The French Chargé d’affaires in Nigeria, Jean-Francois Hasperue, says his country supports the decision of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in February lifting sanctions on Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

The French envoy stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

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It will be recalled that ECOWAS had slammed sanctions on the three Sahel countries in 2023 following the takeover of power by the military in their countries.

ECOWAS leaders, however, rescinded the decision in February, barely a month after the three countries declared their intention to quit the sub-regional bloc and form the Alliance of Sahel States, a parallel group.

Hasperue stated that France was in support of ECOWAS in whatever it was doing to resolve the Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso imbroglio, to retain them in the sub-regional organization.

“So, when ECOWAS decided to make a diplomatic gesture towards these countries in February, we supported the decision.

“As a matter of principle, France and the European Union support political decisions by sub-regional organisations like ECOWAS.

“We did the same for the East African Community, for example, when the community was mandated to try and help in the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.

“So, regions decide their political orientation and the international community supports.

“That’s how we address issues and crises in Africa – in partnership.

“We’ve been supporting ECOWAS and all its member states in whatever they try to do to alleviate the situation, to help resolve the issues,” he said.

The French envoy explained that the decision of ECOWAS heads of state to apply sanctions on the three Sahel countries in August 2023 was not influenced by France.

“I mean, they, ECOWAS, just looked at the situation in the Sahara region and decided that it was too much.

“The military coups d’etat were becoming too much, so they decided to try to end that, but France didn’t influence and had nothing to do with the decisions.

“I mean they (ECOWAS members) are sovereign states that make unanimous decisions for the organisation.

“They considered that the sub-region was threatened due to the series of coups d’etat.

“What these military junta were doing was a threat to the security and stability of the sub-region in terms of fighting terrorism, which they were not able to fight efficiently.

There was also the belief that there could be a spread of the terrorist groups’ activities to other countries in the region.

“And, as I said earlier, whatever ECOWAS decides, as friends, we will support the decision.

“That’s the orientation we have taken together,” he said. (NAN)

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