Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have at their fifth extraordinary summit since three coup d’états occurred in the region, decided to maintain their demand for constitutional transitions in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso within the shortest possible time.
At their summit held at the Kempinski hotel gold coast city in Accra on Friday 25 March 2022, chair of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, described Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso as “recalcitrant states” and urged his colleague heads of state to join hands to assume their responsibility of ensuring total security within the ECOWAS region.
After about four hours of closed door discussions, ECOWAS leaders by an eight-page communique, insisted that the military heads in the three affected nations, must do everything possible to restore constitutional rule within the shortest possible time.
On Mali, the ECOWAS heads of state according to the communique, noted that “the security and humanitarian situation in Mali continues to deteriorate with attacks by terrorist groups resulting in military and civilian casualties”.
They also noted that “during the last mission of the ECOWAS Mediator to Mali from 18 to 20 March 2022, the “Transition Authorities” proposed a 24-month timetable, that is, two (2) years in addition to the 18 months that has already elapsed”.
“In light of the foregoing, the Authority urges the “Transition Authorities” to adhere to the additional period of 12 to 16 months which has been agreed by the joint technical team ECOWAS/AU/UN for the extension of the transition with effect from 15 March 2022, taking into account the activities required for the conduct of the presidential elections” the communique read.
Among others, the ECOWAS leaders decides to send the Mediator to Mali, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to continue and finalise the discussions on the chronogramme with the Transition Authorities.
The ECOWAS Authority also decided to “uphold the sanctions imposed on Mali on 9 January 2022 but called “on partners to increase their humanitarian support to Mali”.
The Authority in the case of Guinea, expressed “serious concern over the lack of visibility on the transition”. They noted that “the six-month deadline set by ECOWAS for the conduct of elections has not been respected”.
Furthermore, “the transition timetable” according to the ECOWAS leaders “is still not available” and priorities have not been set” resulting in “little progress” being made in “the transition process”.
Consequently, the “Authority” of heads of state demanded “the finalization of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25 April 2022”.
“After this deadline, economic and financial sanctions will be immediately applied” the communique indicated.
Additionally, ECOWAS leaders called on the current “government” in Guinea, to promote “inclusiveness and dialogue with the political stakeholders and civil society actors in handling the transition in order to reduce tension in the country and ensure a peaceful transition”.
Burkina Faso timelines
With regard to Burkina Faso, the “Authority” expressed deep concern at the continued detention of former President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, since the coup d’état, in spite of several appeals for his unconditional release.
The heads of state further noted that “the transition authorities are struggling to improve the security situation in the country and find solutions to the humanitarian situation”.
To this end, the leaders of the ECOWAS region demanded “the immediate and unconditional release of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, and decided to “uphold the suspension of Burkina Faso from all ECOWAS institutions until constitutional order is restored”.
They further demanded “the finalization of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25 April 2022”. “After this deadline, economic and financial sanctions will be immediately applied” the communique read.
In the last 19 months, there have been four coups in the ECOWAS sub-region alone. On 18 August 2020, the first military takeover occurred in Mali where the second also occurred on the 24th of May 2021.
The third unconstitutional takeover of power took place on 5 September 2021, in Guinea and the third unconstitutional power seizure took place on 24 January 2022, in Burkina Faso.
ECOWAS heads of state have in each of the coup d’états, instituted sanctions against the military leaders in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.
They have also demanded that the military junta in the two countries take immediate steps to restore democratic rule in the affected nations.
The three affected countries have in separate proposals, presented road maps to transition their respective nations back to constitutional rule.
ECOWAS leaders have rejected the transition plans of the three countries which range from 2 to 5 years. They have instead, demanded that the three countries take immediate steps to return their states to constitutional rule.