ECOWAS Undecided On Sanctions Against Mali, Burkina Faso And Guinea

President Muhammadu Buhari participates at the 6th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on the Political situations in Burkina Faso and the Republic of Guinea and Mali in Ghana on June 4, 2022. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House
President Muhammadu Buhari participates at the 6th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on the Political situations in Burkina Faso and the Republic of Guinea and Mali in Ghana on June 4, 2022. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House

 

West African leaders on Saturday failed to agree what action to take against military juntas in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, postponing a decision for a month, insiders at the meeting said.

They decided to wait until the next ECOWAS summit on July 3, a senior source in the Ghanian presidency told AFP, asking to remain anonymous.

Another source said the leaders had not been able to agree, “particularly over Mali”.

The summit in Ghana’s capital Accra had been billed as the forum to agree whether to ease or ramp up sanctions against the three junta-ruled nations facing jihadist insurgencies.

READ ALSO: Consider The People In Sanctions Against Coup Plotters, Buhari Tells ECOWAS Leaders

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had met in a bid to rule whether to keep, lighten or lift retaliatory measures on Mali, imposed in January after its military regime announced plans to stay in power for another five years.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo opened the summit, attended by the heads of state of most of the 15-member countries but without any representative from Mali, Burkina Faso or Guinea visible in the audience.

“This present summit will re-examine and assess the situations in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso in light of recent developments within the region and global context,” he said.

“Our objective 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 slapped with sanctions, the other two countries risk further punitive measures from the bloc after ruling juntas in their respective capitals vowed to hold onto 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 in September 2021 and Ouagadougou in January.

Insurgency

ECOWAS, keen to limit political instability spreading further, has held summits and tried to pile on pressure to shorten the juntas’ so-called transition periods before a return to civilian rule.

But strongmen Colonel Assimi Goita in Mali, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya in Guinea and Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in Burkina Faso, have all resisted that pressure and since been sworn in as presidents.

They invoke the severity of domestic crises — that span jihadist insurgency to social problems — and claim they need time to rebuild their states and organise elections.

A UN report published last week said the West African sanctions had contributed to worsening living conditions, particularly for the poor.

One of the most volatile and impoverished countries in the world, Mali is battling a decade-old jihadist revolt, which began with a regional insurrection and then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.

ECOWAS closed borders and suspended trade and financial exchanges, except for basic necessities.

In Guinea, the military overthrew president Alpha Conde in September and has vowed a return to civilian rule in three years.

Burkina Faso’s government was overthrown in January, when disgruntled colonels ousted elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

AFP

Consider The People In Sanctions Against Coup Plotters, Buhari Tells ECOWAS Leaders

President Muhammadu Buhari participates at the 6th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on the Political situations in Burkina Faso and the Republic of Guinea and Mali in Ghana on June 4, 2022. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House
President Muhammadu Buhari participates at the 6th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on the Political situations in Burkina Faso and the Republic of Guinea and Mali in Ghana on June 4, 2022. Bayo Omoboriowo/State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says any decision to be taken by ECOWAS leaders on the political situations in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea must consider the victims of unconstitutional changes of government and the adverse consequences of isolation on them.

The President spoke on Saturday in Accra, Ghana at the 6th Extraordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State on the political situations in the three countries.

According to a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina, the President expressed concern that since the last Summit of ECOWAS leaders on March 25 this year, not much has been achieved in terms of having an acceptable time table for the conduct of elections to restore democratic rule in the affected countries.

READ ALSO: I Did Not Disrespect Buhari In Abeokuta, I Have High Regard For Him – Tinubu

He noted that although the military leadership in Burkina Faso has released President Kabore in line with the request by ECOWAS leaders , further measures must be taken to ensure his safety and full freedom.

President Buhari warned that the security situation in both Mali and Burkina Faso has reached alarming levels with incessant attacks by extremist groups on the civilian populace and military facilities, aggravating the humanitarian condition in the two countries.

‘‘The deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Mali and Burkina Faso should be a source of serious concern to us as leaders in the region. As you may be aware, the world is still recovering from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which wrecked the global economy.

‘‘While our economies begin to recover, the impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine has led to a surge in prices of many commodities including foodstuffs.

‘‘We are, therefore, left with no option but to devise means of sustaining our economies by becoming more creative and evolving in finding other channels of demand and supply, in order to ensure that we cushion the effect of the war and prevent our economies from collapsing, and our people remain productive.

‘‘We must, therefore, ensure that, in whatever decision we take, we must remember the mass of the populations in the affected countries, who are victims of the unconstitutional change of government and the adverse consequences of isolation brought about,’’ he said.

To this end, the Nigerian leader called on the Authority to revisit the report presented by former President Goodluck Jonathan, the ECOWAS Mediator on Mali, on a transition timetable for the West African country.

President Buhari noted that Jonathan had recommended 16 months transitional timeframe ‘‘as well as his further personal appeal and observation to us to give the military leadership in Mali up to 18 months for the conduct of election, starting from March 2022.’’

‘‘Furthermore, Nigeria is also calling on the Authority to consider the proposal earlier made for the Chair to personally visit Bamako and present this proposal. Nigeria equally welcomes the magnanimous offer by President Macky Sall, Chair of the Assembly of African Union to accompany H.E. President Nana Addo to Bamako for the purpose.

‘‘From our findings, we are certain that the high-level visit proposed would be welcomed by the military leadership and would achieve the needed consensus. At the same time, the region must be ready to provide the needed support to Mali to return to democratic rule as soon as possible.’’

On the situation in Guinea and Burkina Faso, President Buhari expressed concern that, till date, their proposed timeframes are not in tandem with the expectations of the regional leaders as well as their respective citizens.

He urged the military authorities in Burkina Faso and Guinea to renew their determination and immediately provide acceptable timeframes for the return to democracy in their respective countries.

He announced that Nigeria fully supports any action, including imposition of further sanctions that the Authority may adopt to compel the military leaderships in the two countries to submit an acceptable electoral timetable.

‘‘Nevertheless, there is need for ECOWAS to continue to engage the military leaderships and key stakeholders in Burkina Faso and Guinea in order to reach an agreeable understanding, especially on the transition timeframes,’’ he said.

Earlier, the Chairperson of the Authority and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, thanked his counterparts for their strong commitment to democracy, peace and stability in the region and for staying focused on the situation in the countries.

President Akufo-Addo, who acknowledged the presence of African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the Summit hopes to find lasting solutions to political instability and the resurgence of coup d’états in the region since August 2020.

Nigerian Army Deploys 173 Soldiers To Guinea Bissau On Peacekeeping Operation

Troops undergoing briefing in Kaduna before their deployment to Guinea Bissau for the ECOWAS peacekeeping mission.

 

As part of strengthening and enhancing security in the  West African sub-region,  the Nigerian Army has deployed 173 officers and soldiers to Guinea Bissau on an ECOWAS peacekeeping Operation.

The Chief of Operations, Army Headquarters, Major General Oluwafemi Akinjobi, announced this on Thursday at the graduation and pre-deployment training of the troops from the Martin Luther Agwai Peacekeeping Centre in Jaji Kaduna State.

The graduation comes ahead of their departure to Bissau, the Guinea Bissau capital as they are expected to leave Nigeria immediately after their induction.

While addressing the troops, the Chief of Operations, represented by Major General Zakari Abubakar, warned the contingent to abide by the rules of engagement, exhibit braveness as professionals, and also respect the cultural sensitivity of the people of Guinea Bissau.

READ ALSO: Death Toll In Taraba Bomb Blast Rises To Six As ISWAP Takes Responsibility

“Nigeria remains the beacon of peace and gatekeeper of the ECOWAS sub-region. Consequently, the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to the deployment of a contingent to maintain peace in the Republic of Guinea Bissau,” he said.

“The history of peacekeeping in Africa cannot be written without the commitment and sacrifices of Nigeria. The first contingent of Nigerian peacekeepers was deployed in 1960 shortly after our independence.

“Since then, Nigeria has contributed over 100,000 peacekeepers in over 40 peacekeeping missions in Africa and across the globe. I must say with pride that our peacekeepers have had to restore peace in many conflict areas around the globe which has earned Nigeria many national and individual commendations from several nations.”

Abubakar reminded the soldiers of the United Nations’ zero tolerance for drug trafficking and human rights abuse.

He also asked them to avoid indecent characters capable of tarnishing the image of the Nigerian Army and the nation in general.

In his remarks, the Commandant of the Martin Luther Agwai Peacekeeping Centre, Major General Auwal Fagge, also highlighted the importance of the pre-deployment training.

He said the training is in line with the Nigerian Army Headquarters’ desire to ensure that troops receive the needed robust and theatre-specific pre-deployment training prior to their induction into peacekeeping missions.

Fagge expressed confidence that the high level of enthusiasm and cohesion exhibited by the soldiers and officers will reflect on their operational conduct abroad.

West African Court Orders Suspension Of Mali Sanctions

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa.

 

The court of the West African Economic and Monetary Union ordered Thursday the suspension of sanctions imposed on Mali over delayed elections, according to a document seen by AFP. 

Regional bloc ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) both slapped economic and diplomatic sanctions on Mali in January after the military junta proposed staying in power for up to five years.

The measures included a trade embargo and border closures against the impoverished Sahel state. Mali’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States have also been frozen as part of the sanctions regime.

It was unclear if  the UEMOA decision would lead to the immediate lifting of the sanctions.

READ ALSO: 16 Malian Soldiers Killed In Separate Attacks – Army

Mali’s junta, which seized power in 2020, views the sanctions as illegal and vowed in January to challenge them in international courts.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Mali has over the past decade been wracked by a jihadist insurgency.

Vast swathes of the country are in thrall to myriad rebel groups and militias, and thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict.

In August 2020, rebel military officers deposed elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, after angry protests at the failure to stem jihadist attacks and clamp down on corruption.

The junta, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, sparked international anger after reneging on a promise to stage elections in February this year.

AFP

2023 Elections Will Come And Go, Nigeria Will Remain – Jonathan

 

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, former President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday allayed fears of Nigeria’s disintegration, saying the country will still remain.

He stated this during the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’s Council of the WISE strategic retreat and planning workshop which held in Lagos.

“When elections are coming, there is always this fear that the country will implode. But you see that the country has remained stable,” he said.

“When I was in office, (during) the 2015 elections, some people were sending words out of the country, but nothing happened at the end of the day. So 2023 will come and go and this country will remain.”

The former Nigerian President also expressed confidence in ECOWAS ability to solve the numerous challenges confronting the sub-region.

Former President, Goodluck Jonathan

 

There has been series of coups in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso and some other West African countries leading to sanctions from the regional bloc as well as the African Union.

But Jonathan, who chairs the forum, reiterated the commission’s determination to restore peace in the troubled countries.

“The tasks ahead of us may seem dauting given the current challenges in our sub-region but it is not insurmountable. I implore all of us to give the assignment her best shot.

“We will be seen to have done justice to this assignment if we succeed in catalysing processes towards institutionalizing systems that will deepen democracy, people-oriented governance and sustainable growths in our sub-region.”

This is the first-ever non-state structure that forms part of the council’s peace and security architecture with Jonathan expressing confidence that the region can surmount its challenges.

Mali Parliament Approves Five-Year Democratic Transition Plan


Members of the transitional council give a standing ovation to the military president and junta representative, Malick Diaw in Bamako on February 21, 2022. FLORENT VERGNES / AFP

 

Mali’s lawmakers on Monday approved a plan allowing the military junta to rule for up to five years, AFP journalists said, despite regional sanctions imposed on the country over delayed elections.

After staging a coup in the impoverished Sahel state in August 2020, the country’s military rulers initially promised to stage a vote in February 2022.

But in December last year, the junta proposed staying in power for between six months and five years, citing security concerns.

In response, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last month imposed a trade embargo and closed its borders with Mali. The bloc has called the potential length of the transition unacceptable.

READ ALSO: Stray Nigeria Airstrike Kills Seven Children In Niger Republic

President of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Malick Diaw (C) salutes members of the council during a meeting to vote on a revised charter in Bamako on February 21, 2022. FLORENT VERGNES / AFP

 

On Monday, 120 members of Mali’s 121-seat interim parliament voted to allow the junta to govern for up to five years, in line with the earlier junta proposal.

No lawmakers in the army-dominated legislature voted against the bill or abstained, AFP journalists present said.

The bill does not mention on what date a future election might be held.

Mali’s strongman Colonel Assimi Goita has pledged to restore civilian rule, but he has refused to commit to a date.

Tensions with the junta contributed to France’s announcement last week that it was withdrawing its troops from Mali which are deployed under the anti-jihadist Barkhane force in the Sahel.

The landlocked nation of 21 million people has struggled to contain a brutal jihadist insurgency that emerged in 2012, before spreading three years later to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Across the region, thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and two million people have been displaced by the conflict, of which Mali remains the epicentre.

AFP

PHOTOS: Jonathan Attends ECOWAS Council Of The Wise Retreat In Lagos

Goodluck Jonathan during the meeting.

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan is in Lagos for the maiden edition of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’s Council of the WISE strategic retreat and planning workshop

This is the first-ever non-state structure that forms part of the council’s peace and security architecture with Jonathan expressing confidence that the region can surmount its challenges.

The former Nigerian president is the chairman of the ECOWAS Council Of the Wise.

No Justification For Coup As Means To Change Govt, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Osinbajo at the summit. Photo: [email protected]

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has faulted recent coups in West Africa, insisting that democracy is the only acceptable way to change governments.

Osinbajo made the comment after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) emergency meeting held in Accra on Thursday.

“I think it has been fruitful,” he said about the meeting at the Ghanaian capital. “The Heads of State again reiterated the firm position that had been taken earlier that there is absolutely no excuse for a change of government by coup d’etat.

“So, what happened in Burkina Faso was considered and has been condemned by all of the heads of state and we do not think there is any excuse for it whatsoever.  But at the moment, of course, engagement is going on with the military junta and also we condemned the attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau and congratulated President Embalo and the people of Guinea-Bissau for resisting that unconstitutional attempt to change the government.

“All in all it has been fruitful and we are very hopeful that lessons had been learnt and we will not see a repeat of this.”

READ ALSO: African Union Suspends Burkina Faso After Coup

Osinbajo maintains that there is no justification for coups. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Vice President, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the event,  condemned the coup in Burkina Faso and the attempt to do the same in Guinea-Bissau.

West African leaders called for the meeting following an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau. Photo: [email protected]

 

On the situation in Mali, he said he expects the country’s authorities to respond to the sanctions imposed on them by ECOWAS.  Osinbajo said, “We expect that at some point, the Malian authorities themselves would begin to speed up the process of transition. We expect that they would do so. We are looking forward to that engagement”.

The vice president has since returned to the country following the meeting.

No Excuse Whatsoever For Burkina Faso Coup – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has condemned the military coup in Burkina Faso, saying there is no excuse to justify what happened in the West African country.

He stated this on Thursday after attending the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the political situations in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

The Vice President, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the Summit, said talks were ongoing with the military junta to return to civil rule.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo Joins West African Leaders For Emergency Summit After Spate Of Coups

“So, what happened in Burkina Faso was considered and has been condemned by all of the heads of state and we do not think there is any excuse for it whatsoever,” the Vice President told reporters in Abuja.

“I think it has been fruitful,  the Heads of State again reiterated the firm position that had been taken earlier that there is absolutely no excuse for a change of government by coup d’etat.

“But at the moment, of course, engagement is going on with the military junta and also we condemned the attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau and congratulated President Embalo and the people of Guinea-Bissau for resisting that unconstitutional attempt to change the government.

“All in all it has been fruitful and we are very hopeful that lessons had been learnt and we will not see a repeat of this.”

Emergency talks in the Ghanaian capital Accra were triggered after Burkina Faso on January 24 became the third member of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to be overtaken by the military.

Burkina followed Mali, where a coup in September 2020 was followed by a second in May 2021, and Guinea, where elected president Alpha Conde was ousted last September.

Adding to the region’s turmoil was a gun attack on Tuesday on the president of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, stoking fears that years of efforts to steer West Africa towards stability and democracy are failing.

Already, the African Union said Monday it had suspended Burkina Faso in response to the January 24 coup that ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

The bloc’s 15-member Peace and Security Council said on Twitter it had voted “to suspend the participation of #BurkinaFaso in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country”.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, had already condemned the coup the day it happened and before it was clear who was taking charge.

The West African bloc ECOWAS suspended Burkina Faso on Friday and sent a delegation to meet with the ruling junta Saturday.

Osinbajo Joins West African Leaders For Emergency Summit After Spate Of Coups

ECOWAS.

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has joined other West African leaders for an emergency summit following the spate of coups in the subregion. 

Osinbajo left with Nigeria’s delegate early Thursday for Accra, Ghana for the  Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government deliberating.

Emergency talks in the Ghanaian capital Accra were triggered after Burkina Faso on January 24 became the third member of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to be overtaken by the military.

Burkina followed Mali, where a coup in September 2020 was followed by a second in May 2021, and Guinea, where elected president Alpha Conde was ousted last September.

Adding to the region’s turmoil was a gun attack on Tuesday on the president of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, stoking fears that years of efforts to steer West Africa towards stability and democracy are failing.

READ ALSO: African Union Suspends Burkina Faso After Coup

Thursday’s one-day meeting, scheduled to start at 1000 GMT, will assess the outcome of two missions to Burkina following the coup.

Burkina was suspended from ECOWAS after rebel soldiers arrested President Roch Marc Christian Kabore amid public anger at his handling of a jihadist insurgency.

The question now is whether the country — ranked a wretched 182nd out of 189 countries in the UN’s worldwide development index — will escape economic punishment.

ECOWAS has already slapped crippling sanctions on Mali and Guinea for dragging their feet on commitments to restore civilian rule.

Those measures have included the closure of borders by ECOWAS members, an embargo on trade and financial transactions, and sanctions against individuals.

Positive Signs 

Military chiefs from ECOWAS flew to Ouagadougou on Saturday for talks with the junta, and this was followed on Monday by a diplomatic mission led by Ghana’s foreign minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

Early reactions from the envoys have been positive.

“They seemed very open to the suggestions and proposals that we made. For us it’s a good sign,” Botchwey told reporters after meeting with strongman Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and other junta members.

The talks were attended by the UN’s special representative for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who described a “very frank exchange”.

The delegation notably met Kabore, whose wellbeing and demands for release from house arrest are major issues.

During the visit, the junta declared it had restored the constitution, which it had swiftly suspended following the coup, and named Damiba as president and head of the armed forces during a transition period.

And on Tuesday, Damiba met with political party chiefs, many of whom said they were keen to take part in the restoration of civilian rule.

But major questions remain unanswered, including the key issue of a date for elections. On January 24, the junta vowed to re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

In deciding whether to impose sanctions, ECOWAS leaders have to balance the credibility of their organisation against the fragility of some of their states, especially in the Sahel.

Mali and Burkina Faso are in the throes of a nearly decade-old jihadist emergency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced at least one and a half million people from their homes.

Escalating political friction with the junta in Mali has driven Bamako closer to the Kremlin and cast a shadow over France’s anti-jihadist mission in the country.

AFP

ECOWAS Delegation Arrives In Burkina Faso Over Coup

This grab of a handout video released by Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina” on January 27, 2022 shows the leader of Burkina Faso’s new military junta Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba speaking during a televised address, three days after the overthrow of Burkina Faso’s president. Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina / AFP

 

A delegation from West African bloc ECOWAS arrived in Burkina Faso on Saturday, a security source said, one day after it suspended the country over the region’s latest coup.

Rebel soldiers seized Burkina president Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Monday amid rising public anger at his failure to stem jihadist violence ravaging the impoverished nation.

It marked the third military coup in a West African country in just 18 months.

READ ALSO: Kenya Boosts Security After Terror Warnings

The security source told AFP that the ECOWAS delegation arrived in Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou on Saturday morning.

“They are already in a closed-door working session. No statement is planned,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The delegation is composed of representatives from Benin, Togo and Ghana, and is led by ECOWAS peace and security commissioner Francis Behanzin of Benin, it added.

The delegation would “evaluate the situation before the arrival of another mission next week,” the source said.

Ministerial-level ECOWAS envoys are expected to arrive in the Burkina Faso capital on Monday.

It was not possible to immediately confirm whether the delegation would meet with junta leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

The once 15-nation ECOWAS had already suspended two other members — Guinea and Mali — after recent military coups.

On Friday it also suspended Burkina Faso, demanding the release of Kabore, who is being held under house arrest by the army, as well as other detained officials.

West African leaders will meet for a summit on February 3 in Ghana’s capital Accra to assess the outcome of the Burkina missions and to decide whether it should impose sanctions as it has done in Mali and Guinea.

The president of the ECOWAS Commission, Ivorian politician Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, told AFP that the situation in Mali and Guinea will also be discussed at the February summit.

He said ECOWAS’ response to coups has “always been very firm and very coherent — it’s zero tolerance.”

Damiba has only spoken once since seizing power, in a televised address on Thursday in which he asked for help from Burkina Faso’s “international partners”.

The coup is the latest bout of turmoil to strike Burkina Faso, a landlocked state that has suffered chronic instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

A jihadist insurgency that spread over Mali’s border has killed more than 2,000 and forced 1.5 million to flee their homes since 2015.

 

AFP

ECOWAS Suspends Burkina Faso Over Coup

This grab of a handout video released by Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina” on January 27, 2022, shows the leader of Burkina Faso’s new military junta Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba speaking during a televised address, three days after the overthrow of Burkina Faso’s president. Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina / AFP

 

The West African bloc ECOWAS on Friday suspended Burkina Faso following a coup, but will not impose other sanctions for the time being, a participant at a virtual summit said.

ECOWAS is also calling for the new junta to release ousted president Roch Marc Christian Kabore and other officials detained during Monday’s coup, the source said.

The bloc will hold another summit in Accra on February 3, it added.

The summit, which lasted around three hours, also decided to send a mission of ECOWAS chiefs of staff to Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, on Saturday.

This will be followed on Monday by ministerial-level envoys from the bloc, the source said.

Kabore, 64, was elected in 2015 following a popular revolt that forced out strongman Blaise Compaore.

He was re-elected in 2020, but the following year faced a wave of anger over the mounting toll from a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali.

On Sunday, mutinies broke out in several barracks and the following day, Kabore was arrested and taken away by troops.

The impoverished Sahel state is being run by a junta led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who commands military units in the country’s jihadist-torn east.

On the eve of the summit, Damiba made a televised appeal for “the international community to support our country so it can exit this crisis as soon as possible.”

He promised Burkina would “return to a normal constitutional life… when the conditions are right.”

Burkina Faso joins two other ECOWAS countries — Mali and Guinea — where there have been coups in the past 18 months.

Those two countries have been suspended by the regional bloc, which has also imposed an array of sanctions on them, including measures against individuals.