ABUJA, March 24 (Reuters) - West African regional bloc ECOWAS on Thursday lifted sanctions against Niger and Guinea after elections over the past six months returned both countries to civilian rule.
ECOWAS suspended Niger and halted economic and bilateral assistance to the uranium-producing nation in 2009 after ex-President Mamadou Tandja changed the constitution to extend his rule.
A military junta ousted Tandja last year but stuck to a pledge to organise credible elections.
“(ECOWAS) noted with satisfaction the successful completion of the transitional process to restore constitutional legality through the conduct of a credible, transparent and peaceful election,” ECOWAS said in a statement following a summit in Nigeria.
Opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou was declared winner of those elections earlier this month after beating Seyni Oumarou, an ally of the former president. [nLDE72D1BK]
ECOWAS also lifted sanctions on Guinea, the world’s top supplier of the aluminium ore bauxite.
Those sanctions were also imposed in 2009 following a bloody crackdown by security forces on protesters, and included an arms embargo.
President Alpha Conde won a hotly contested poll last November that ended nearly two years of military junta rule and was billed as the former French colony's first free vote since independence in 1958. (For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: af.reuters.com/ ) (Reporting by Joe Brock; Writing by Nick Tattersall, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)