ECOWAS Court Denies Niger’s Plea to Halt Sanctions Following Coup

The ECOWAS Court of Justice rejected Niger’s appeal to suspend sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government. The sanctions were levied in response to a military coup in July 2023 that ousted President Mohammed Bazoum.

In a ruling delivered by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, the court acknowledged its jurisdiction over the main application but refused to grant the request for interim measures. The court explained that the Republic of Niger, currently under military control, lacked the necessary standing before the court, rendering the substantive application inadmissible.

The case, initiated by Niger and seven other applicants, challenges the legality of the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS. The applicants argued that the sanctions led to adverse effects on the Nigerien people, including food, medicine, and electricity shortages due to closed borders and the suspension of electricity supply by Nigeria.

Represented by their lawyers, including Mr. Moukaila Yaye, the applicants sought interim orders compelling the ECOWAS Authority to lift the sanctions immediately. They contended that ECOWAS treated Niger unfairly compared to other member states like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, which had experienced recent coups.

François Kanga-Penond, representing the ECOWAS Authority, argued that Niger’s current military junta, having seized power unconstitutionally, could not legally represent the country. He asserted that both the substantive application and the request for provisional measures were inadmissible, urging the court to reject the plea for interim measures.

In the main application, the applicants, including the Republic of Niger and six Nigerien organizations, asked the court to declare the ECOWAS Authority’s decisions to restore constitutional order in Niger illegal. They sought to nullify all sanctions-imposing decisions, including the authorization for military intervention in Niger. The court’s ruling underscores the complexities surrounding the legal implications of the ECOWAS sanctions and the internal political dynamics in Niger.

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