West African coup states – Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea have been given new deadlines to ensure elections take place to return them into civilian rule.
Leaders of the regional bloc, ECOWAS on Friday after their summit in Ghana’s capital Accra agreed to give Mali’s military transitional government 12 to 16 months to hold elections.
In a statement the heads of state decided “to send the Mediator to Mali to continue and finalise the discussions on the chronogramme with the Transition Authorities.”
The leaders in the meantime decided to “uphold the sanctions imposed on 9th January 2022” and “continue the dialogue with a view to reaching an agreement to ensure a gradual lifting of the sanctions.”
ECOWAS however urged “partners to increase their humanitarian support to Mali.”
Prior to the summit, the heads of state had extended an invitation to Mali’s interim leader but it was declined as he opted to join virtually.
ECOWAS said in its statement that “the Authority regrets the non-availability of the President of the Transition to physically honour the invitation extended to him to participate in the Summit in order to find a solution to the current situation in Mali.”
On the political situation in Guinea, the heads of state offered the ruling junta a month to propose a democratic transition timeline.
In the statement the West African leaders demanded for the “finalisation of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25th April 2022. After this deadline, economic and financial sanctions will be immediately applied.”
It further called “on the government to promote the 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.”
Guinea had earlier rejected a facilitator for negotiations to return to civilian rule, but ECOWAS said “in view of the socio-political crisis and the urgent need to facilitate dialogue between all stakeholders, the Authority reaffirms the decision to appoint a Facilitator.”
Burkina Faso decision
The heads of state are however unhappy with developments in Burkina Faso following the coup in that country earlier this year.
“The Authority expresses deep concern at the continued detention of former President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré since the coup d’Etat, in spite of several appeals for his unconditional release,” the statement said.
It said “the Authority further notes that the transition authorities are struggling to improve the security situation in the country and find solutions to the humanitarian situation.”
ECOWAS said it “remains very concerned about the duration of the transition period set for thirty-six (36) months by the Transition Charter.”
The heads of state have made new demands of Burkina Faso including “the finalisation of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25th April 2022. After this deadline, economic and financial sanctions will be immediately applied.”