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ECOWAS leaders meet in Accra at extraordinary summit, split on Saturday without agreeing on sanctions against the ruling juntas in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, and will meet in the Ghanaian capital on July 3 .
After a sixth summit on Saturday, there will be a seventh. West African leaders finally failed to reach an agreement in Accra on Saturday (June 4th) after a sixth special summit was held to decide whether to ease or tighten sanctions against Accra. Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, where juntas in power do not intend to leave soon. The decision is postponed to a new summit on July 3.
The decisions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “are postponed to a summit here in Accra on July 3,” an official from the Ghanaian presidency told AFP on condition of anonymity. A summit participant explained, also on condition of anonymity, that the heads of state had failed to reach an agreement, “especially on Mali”.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting late in the morning in the Ghanaian capital had to say in particular whether they were maintaining, easing or even lifting severe retaliatory measures inflicted on Mali on January 9 to stop the military’s plan to rule for another five years.
Burkina Faso, another Sahelian country caught in jihadist turmoil, and Guinea are only suspended from ECOWAS organs. But the ruling junta intends to stay there for three years and expose their country to the thunderbolts of ECOWAS.
West Africa saw the coups of colonels and lieutenants-colonels in less than two years: a coup on August 18, 2020 in Bamako – a new feat that ended on May 24, 2021 -, a coup on May 5, 2020 September 2021 in Conakry, putsch on January 24, 2022 in Ouagadougou.
Resistance of new strongmen
Since 2020, ECOWAS, alarmed by the risk of contagion in a vulnerable region, has been stepping up summits, mediations and pressure to shorten the so-called transition periods before civilians return to their country.
It encounters the resistance of the new strongmen, whether it is the Colonel Assimi Goita in Mali, du Colonel Mamady Doumbouya in Guinea or the Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damibawho have all had presidents invested in the meantime.
The new uniformed rulers cite, in order to stay in power, the gravity of the crises they face, security in Mali and Burkina, social and political in all three countries. They want to have the time for what they present as their business of “refounding” their state, and for holding credible elections.
In the face of ECOWAS, they are draping themselves in the preeminence of national sovereignty over West African rules of governance.
Space for a compromise with Bamako
In Mali, the junta has dedicated itself to its initial commitment, under pressure from ECOWAS, to give way after 18 months after elections promised in February 2022. When it went so far as to consider five more years , ECOWAS severely violated on January 9, closing borders and suspending trade and finance, excluding basic necessities.
A UN report released last week said that in an already acute crisis, West African sanctions had “severely affected” some sectors and “worsened living conditions, especially for the poor.”
After the protests, the authorities reduced their claims to 24 months. Until then, ECOWAS had agreed to a maximum of 16 months and indicated that sanctions would only be phased out when Mali had an acceptable timetable.
Various protagonists pointed out that there was room for compromise.
“By taking into account the suffering of the Malian people in particular, we can agree on a sixteen to twenty-four month deadline,” he said in a recent issue of Young Africa magazine. the Senegalese head of state, President-in-Office of the African Union.
An “unthinkable” deadline in Guinea
On the other hand, “for Guinea, ECOWAS will have to take action,” he said. He described Colonel Doumbouya’s 39-month period, which has since been reduced to 36, as “unthinkable”.
At a previous summit on March 25, ECOWAS gave the junta until April 25 to present an “acceptable” timeline. Failing that, “economic and financial sanctions will take effect immediately,” she warned.
ECOWAS has already announced the freezing of the financial assets of junta members and their families. They are banned from traveling within ECOWAS.
A “reasonable” Burkina?
Burkina Faso “seems more reasonable” to the President of theAfrican Union.
The March summit had set the same ultimatum in Burkina Faso as in Guinea. But at the request of the junta, ECOWAS sent a three-day mission in late May to assess the situation in Burkina Faso, where bloody jihadist attacks are taking place.
The report of the mission, submitted to the Accra summit on Saturday, notes that “the humanitarian and security situation remains difficult” and “obviously this situation must be taken,” said ECOWAS commission chairman Jean -Claude Kassi Brou.