West African Summit; Coup-hit Neighbors on Agenda

West African leaders attended a summit Sunday as their regional bloc pursues its efforts to resolve the political impasse in the coup-hit nations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

A summit last month of the Economic Community of West African States put off imposing further economic and financial sanctions on the three nations. They were suspended from the bloc following military coups and are under international pressure to hold democratic elections.

Malian authorities recently announced a transition roadmap that includes scheduling a presidential election for February 2024 and a March 2023 constitutional referendum.

It remains to be seen if participants at Sunday’s summit in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, will accept the proposal.

ECOWAS sanctioned Mali in January by shutting down most commerce with the country, along with its land and air borders with other countries in the bloc. The measures have crippled Mali’s economy.

The juntas in Guinea and Burkina Faso have proposed three-year transition periods, which ECOWAS rejected as too long a wait for elections.

The wave of military coups began in August 2020, when Col. Assimi Goita and other soldiers overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president. Nine months later, he carried out a second coup, dismissing the country’s civilian transitional leader and assuming the presidency himself.

Mutinous soldiers deposed Guinea’s president in September 2021, and Burkina Faso’s leader was ousted in a January coup.

The political upheaval came as many observers started to think that military power grabs were a thing of the past in West Africa.

Source: Voice of America