West Africa’s main political and economic bloc said on Friday it would give Mali’s transitional military government 12 to 16 months to hold elections and offered Guinea’s ruling junta a month to propose a democratic transition calendar.
Following a summit in Accra, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also decided to ask Burkina Faso’s interim leaders to bring the proposed 36-month transition back to a “more acceptable timetable”, ECOWAS Commission President Jean Claude Kassi Brou told a press conference.
West Africa has been rocked by three coups, one in Mali, one in Guinea and the other in Burkina Faso since August 2020, tarnishing its reputation as a model of democratic progress in Africa.
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ECOWAS, which has 15 countries, has repeatedly condemned the putsches and is trying to return power to civilian hands.
“Our democratic values must be preserved. Some countries are going through difficulties, but we must meet these challenges collectively,” said Kassi Brou.
ECOWAS has already imposed sanctions on Guinea and Mali. Kassi Brou said these sanctions would gradually be lifted in Mali if its leaders met the 12-16 month ultimatum. Tougher sanctions will be imposed on Guinea if it fails to meet its own deadline.
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“We have no idea when the transition [en Guinée] will end and this creates tensions in the region and inside the country,” he said.
Mali’s interim government has broken its promise to hold elections in February. Guinea, whose former President Alpha Condé was overthrown in September, has not yet drawn up a plan for the transfer of power.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, the organisation’s chairman, Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo, said it was time to take stock of the situation of the three holdout member states.
Sanctions against Mali have already cut off the country’s access to regional financial markets, caused job losses and contributed to defaulting on around $180 million in debt.
Burkina Faso, which has been spared so far, will also face sanctions if the junta does not release ex-president Roch Kabore from house arrest in the coming months, Kassi Brou said.
photo credit: yahoonews