ecowas countries

ECOWAS reiterates anti-coup position in West Africa

 Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday met in Accra, Ghana to review sanctions imposed on their neighbors Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso for coup d’état. 

Are the juntas unyielding? 

The meeting was called so that the ECOWAS leaders could assess efforts to secure timetables and other guarantees for restoring civilian rule in the affected countries. In a bid to halt the coup trend from spreading to other countries and deter potential coup plotters, the regional bloc imposed tough trade and economic sanctions against Mali, but lesser punishments against Guinea and Burkina Faso. 

Why are they lenient on Burkina Faso and Guinea? 

Mali has seen two coups in less than 2 years, and ECOWAS appears to be unsatisfied with the progression of events thereafter its military government unveiled a plan to rule for five years. Mali underwent coups in August 2020 and May 2021, followed by Guinea in September 2021 and Burkina Faso in January 2022. The host, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, noted ECOWAS’ commitment to supporting the countries’ return to democratic rule if the right progress is observed. 

The Malian government on Wednesday accepted a plan to hold presidential elections in February 2024, after months of contentious negotiations. Legislative elections will take place in the latter part of 2023, after a referendum on a new constitution is held in March 2023. In Burkina Faso, a constitutional referendum, and parliamentary and presidential elections have been suggested for December 2024 and February 2025, respectively. 

However, Guinea has proven to be more complicated, as its junta has rejected an ECOWAS mediator and announced a 36-month transition, which African Union chief and President of Senegal, Macky Sall, has called “unthinkable.”

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