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West African Court Rejects Niger Junta’s Plea To Remove Coup Linked Sanctions

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The junta in Niger requested that the sanctions related to the coup be lifted by its neighbours, but the top court in West Africa rejected the request on Thursday, December 7, stating that the junta is unconstitutional and therefore does not have the right to make such a request.

The West African regional bloc ECOWAS imposed sanctions after the coup in July that overthrew Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum. These sanctions included closing borders with Niger, halting financial transactions, and freezing Niger’s assets. Seventy percent of Niger’s electricity came from power outages caused by neighbouring Nigeria.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja heard a challenge to the sanctions from the de facto government of Niger as well as from individuals and organisations. They claimed that by reducing food and medicine supplies, among other things, they were severely impoverishing the people of Niger.

The leaders of the coup in Niger requested that the sanctions be temporarily lifted while a decision on the matter is made.

Judge Dupe Atoki delivered the decision on Thursday, describing Niger’s junta as the outcome of “an unconstitutional change of government” and declaring that the country is not acknowledged as a constituent of the regional alliance.

Thus, the judge declared, “Therefore, to the extent that the request for provisional measures in the name of Niger has been brought by an unconstitutional and unrecognized government, it is … inadmissible.”

The decision may make it more difficult to end Niger’s political unrest and restore civilian rule in the nation. The ECOWAS has rejected the junta’s proposed three-year timeline for handing back power to civilians, even though the junta has named a prime minister.

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