West African leaders discuss sanctions against juntas
West African leaders opened a meeting in Ghana’s capital Accra on Saturday to decide whether to ease or intensify sanctions against junta-ruled Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
This video excerpt taken from a video obtained by AFPTV from Radio Télévision du Burkina (RTB) on January 24, 2022 shows Captain Sidsoré Kader Ouedraogo (C), spokesman for the junta, with uniformed soldiers announcing to television that they seized power and ‘put an end to the power’ of Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, in Ouagadougou. On January 24, 2022, soldiers in Burkina Faso announced on state television that they had seized power in the West African country following a mutiny following the incapacitation of the civilian president. to contain an Islamist insurgency. Photo: Radio Television du Burkina (RTB) / AFP
ACCRA – West African leaders opened a meeting in Ghana’s capital Accra on Saturday to decide whether to ease or intensify sanctions against junta-ruled Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to decide whether to maintain, ease or lift retaliatory measures against Mali, imposed in January after its military regime announced its intention to rule for five more years.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo Ado opened the summit, which was attended by heads of state from most of the 15 member countries, but with no visible representatives from Mali, Burkina Faso or Guinea in attendance.
“This current summit will review and assess the situations in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso in light of recent developments in the region and in the global context,” he said.
“Our goal has always been to find ways to help these countries return to constitutional order.”
Guinea, Burkina Faso and Mali are currently suspended from ECOWAS bodies.
While Mali has already been hit with sanctions, the other two countries risk further punitive measures from the bloc after ruling juntas in their respective capitals pledged to hold power for another three years.
West Africa has seen a succession of military coups in less than two years – two in Bamako, followed by Conakry last September and Ouagadougou in January.
ECOWAS, keen to limit the spread of political instability, has held summits and lobbied to shorten the juntas’ so-called transition periods before a return to civilian rule.
But the strongmen, Col. Assimi Goita in Mali, Col. Mamady Doumbouya in Guinea and Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in Burkina Faso, all flouted that pressure and have since been sworn in as presidents.
They invoke the gravity of domestic crises – which range from the jihadist insurgency to social problems – and say they need time to rebuild their states and hold elections.
A UN report released last week said West African sanctions had contributed to deteriorating living conditions, especially for the poor.
One of the most unstable and poorest countries in the world, Mali is grappling with a decade-old jihadist revolt, which began as a regional insurgency and then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.
ECOWAS has closed borders and suspended trade and financial exchanges, except for basic necessities.
In Guinea, the army overthrew President Alpha Condé last September and vowed a return to civilian rule in three years.
Burkina Faso’s government was toppled in January, when disgruntled colonels overthrew elected president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.