ECOWAS to Impose Sanctions on African Countries that Underwent Coups Recently

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).jpg

By Samuel Manford (Accra, Ghana)

West Africa’s main political and economic bloc said on Friday it would give Mali’s military transitional Government twelve to sixteen (12 to 16) months to arrange elections and offered Guinea’s ruling junta a month to propose a democratic transition timeline.

After a summit in Ghana’s capital Accra, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also agreed to ask Burkina Faso’s interim leaders to reduce a proposed transition of thirty-six (36) months to a “more acceptable timeline,” the bloc’s Commission President Jean Claude Kassi Brou told a news conference.

Opening the 5th Extraordinary Meeting of the Authority of Heads of States and Government, ECOWAS Chairperson and Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo said, “I want to welcome your Excellencies back to Accra again to take stock of where we are with our three recalcitrant member States Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso and take appropriate decisions on the way forward”.

Since August 2020, West Africa has been rocked by two coups in Mali, one in Guinea and one in Burkina Faso, tarnishing its reputation as a model of democratic progress in Africa.

The 15-nation ECOWAS has repeatedly condemned the putsches and is trying to bring power back into civilian hands.

“Our democratic values must be preserved,” Kassi Brou said. “Some countries are going through challenges but we must address those challenges collectively.”

ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Guinea and Mali for delays in restoring constitutional order.

Kassi Brou said those measures would be gradually lifted in Mali if its leaders respected the 12- to 16-month ultimatum. Harsher penalties will hit Guinea if it misses its own April 25 deadline, he warned.

“We have no idea when the transition (in Guinea) will end and this creates tensions in the region and inside the country,” he said. Guinea, whose ex-President Alpha Conde was overthrown in September, has yet to lay out handover plans.

Mali’s interim Government failed on a promise to hold elections in February and first said it would keep ruling until at least 2025, which was then revised down to 24 months.

ECOWAS on Tuesday, 22 March 2022, extended an invitation to the President of the transition Colonel Assimi Goïta to attend the summit but he declined, instead, sending a delegation of four members of the Government led by Mr. Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to represent him in Accra.

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso’s junta, which took over in January, has proposed relinquishing power after three years, raising eyebrows in ECOWAS.

Sanctions in Mali have already severed the country’s access to regional financial markets, caused job losses and contributed to its default on about $180 million in debt payments.

Burkina Faso, which has so far been spared, will also face sanctions if the junta does not release ex-President Roch Kabore from house arrest within the next month, Kassi Brou said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here