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West Africa leaders lift sanctions on two junta-led neighbours

ACCRA, GHANA (AP) – West African leaders attending a regional summit agreed on Sunday to lift sanctions on two neighbours led by military governments that are now promising a return to democratic rule.

The summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) resolved to lift all economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali and Burkina Faso, although those countries will remain suspended from the regional bloc, said Ivorian politician Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, who has been serving as president of the ECOWAS Commission.

Guinea, the third country under sanctions, received no reprieve because it did not submit an acceptable roadmap toward elections, he said.

He said the suspension of all three nations from ECOWAS would remain in force until they hold elections.

In lifting the sanctions on Mali and Burkina Faso, leaders at the summit in Ghana’s capital, Accra, accepted transition plans presented by military authorities in those countries. Mali’s junta proposed scheduling a presidential election by March 2024. Burkina Faso proposed a 24-month transition.

ECOWAS sanctioned Mali in January by shutting down most commerce with the country, along with its land and air borders with other countries in the bloc.

The measures have crippled Mali’s economy, raising humanitarian concerns amid widespread suffering.