Heads of States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have at their 6th Extraordinary session on the political situations in Burkina Faso and the Republics of Guinea and Mali, decided to maintain pressure on the military authorities in three recalcitrant states, to transition their countries back to constitutional rule
President Akufo-Addo, who is the current chairman of ECOWAS, hosted his colleague heads of state at the Jubilee House, the seat of Ghana’s presidency, on 4 June 2022, where the regional body reached the decision.
After nearly 6 hours of meeting and deliberations on the three ECOWAS member states, the heads of state issued a 6-page communique on their position on Burkina Faso, Mail and Guinea.
Situation in Burkina Faso
Concerning Burkina Faso and on the security front in that nation, the Authority says it “takes note of the efforts made by Burkina Faso, despite its numerous challenges, in recovering some localities, thus leading to the return of some of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the reopening of some schools”.
“The Authority encourages the Transition Authorities to sustain the momentum towards further enhancing security in the country”.
“On the humanitarian front, the Authority expresses serious concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation compared to the situation noted by the previous ECOWAS mission in the country in April 2022”.
“ECOWAS therefore called on the International Community to strengthen its humanitarian support to Burkina Faso” the communique read.
Furthermore, the Authority decided to uphold the suspension of Burkina Faso from all ECOWAS institutions until constitutional order is restored” while demanding “the finalization of an acceptable transition timetable.
The ECOWAS authority also decided to “appoint H.E. Mahamadou
ISSOUFOU, former President of the Republic of Niger, as ECOWAS Mediator for Burkina Faso, to facilitate dialogue among all stakeholders”.
Deterioration in Mali
With regard to Mali, the Authority expressed “serious concern over the deteriorating sociopolitical situation notably due to the lack of an appropriate dialogue framework between the government and the political stakeholders and civil society actors”.
The Authority says it is also “concerned about the length of the 36-month transition period announced by the transition authorities”.
Consequently, the Authority says it demands the finalization of an acceptable transition timetable while urging the government to establish an appropriate framework for dialogue with political and civil society stakeholders in order to ease the socio-political tension and ensure a peaceful transition”.
The ECOWAS leaders confirmed the designation of H.E. Mohamed Ibn CHAMBAS as ECOWAS Mediator in Guinea and indicated that the Authority will examine the situation in Guinea at its next Ordinary Summit on 3 July 2022.
Progress in Mali
The Authority commends the efforts made by the ECOWAS mediator with a view to reaching an acceptable timetable to ensure a quick return to constitutional order, in accordance with the ECOWAS and African Union protocols and decisions on the situation in Mali.
The ECOWAS leaders asked “the Mediator to Mali to continue his efforts and to finalize the discussions with the Transition Authorities. They subsequently decided to uphold the sanctions imposed on Mali on the 9 January 2022.
However, they noted that, they look forward to the continuing dialogue “with a view to reaching an agreement to ensure a gradual lifting of the sanctions as benchmarks of the transition are met” in Mali.
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.