West African bloc issues ultimatums to Mali, Burkina Faso junta leaders

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West African leaders met Friday to examine the political situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, issuing warnings for failure to restore constitutional order following recent coups in the three countries.

At an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc in Ghana’s capital, Accra, the bloc’s chairman, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. described the three countries as recalcitrant members of the bloc.

“Members of the authority of ECOWAS, I want to welcome your excellences back to Accra again to take stock of where we are with our three recalcitrant member states – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso to make appropriate decisions on the way forward,” he said. “I want to thank you once again for the short notice you responded to the invitation to this meeting, once again a clear indication of your determination to assume your responsibilities for the security of ECOWAS”

The West African leaders gave Mali’s transitional authorities 12 – 16 months to arrange elections, according to the final communique issued after the meeting.

Mali witnessed two coups, in August 2020 and in May 2021. 

In Guinea, the military overthrew president Alpha Conde in September.

The junta in Mali initially promised to hold elections in February but later changed that timeline, saying elections would be held in 2026, a move rejected by the ECOWAS.

The bloc invited the transitional president of Mali, Col. Assimi Goita, to attend the meeting Friday in person but he declined, preferring to attend virtually.

The communique said ECOWAS regretted Goita’s failure to honor the invitation to attend the summit to seek a solution to the current situation.


Burkina Faso asked to free former president

The bloc, meanwhile, asked Burkina Faso’s interim leaders to reduce a proposed transition period of 36 months to a “more acceptable timeline.”

The leaders also expressed “deep concern over the continued detention of former Burkina Faso leader Rock Kabore since the coup, despite several calls for his unconditional release.”

It demanded the release of Kabore “no later than March 31, 2022 beyond which individual sanctions will be imposed on the transitional authorities.”

ECOWAS also asked Guinea to present an “acceptable timetable for the transition” before the end of April.

After that deadline, individual sanctions would be imposed on members of the government and the National Transitional Council (CNT), it warned.

ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Mali and Guinea for delaying the restoration of constitutional order.

The leaders decided to maintain sanctions that were imposed in January.

The bloc maintained the suspension of Burkina Faso from all ECOWAS bodies until the restoration of constitutional order.

Like Mali and Guinea, ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso from its governing bodies after the military overthrew President Kabore.