West African leaders put off further post-coup sanctions | Star Tribune

ACCRA, Ghana — West African heads of state put off fur­ther pun­ish­ing the lead­ers of Mali, Guinea and Burk­i­na Faso at a region­al sum­mit Sat­ur­day, as coup lead­ers in all three coun­tries con­tin­ue to insist that it will take years before new elec­tions can be held.

The 15-nation region­al bloc known as ECOWAS will con­vene again on July 3 before deter­min­ing if fur­ther sanc­tions will be imple­ment­ed in the three sus­pend­ed mem­bers states, ECOWAS Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Kas­si Brou said.

ECOWAS already imposed strong eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Mali back in Jan­u­ary — shut­ting down most com­merce, along with land and air bor­ders with oth­er coun­tries in the bloc. Those mea­sures have crip­pled Mal­i’s econ­o­my, prompt­ing con­cern about the human­i­tar­i­an con­se­quences on Malians.

The sanc­tions have not yet brought about a polit­i­cal break­through either: In the months since, Col. Assi­mi Goi­ta has only fur­ther iso­lat­ed the coun­try inter­na­tion­al­ly, pulling out of a region­al secu­ri­ty force and also shut­ting down two lead­ing French media broadcasters.

Goita’s gov­ern­ment also still insists that no vote can be held until 2024, which would extend their time to pow­er to near­ly four years despite orig­i­nal­ly agree­ing to an 18-month tran­si­tion back to democracy.

The jun­tas in Guinea and Burk­i­na Faso also have pro­posed three-year tran­si­tions, which have been reject­ed by ECOWAS as too long a wait for new elections.

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

Muti­nous sol­diers deposed Guinea’s pres­i­dent in Sep­tem­ber 2021, and Burk­i­na Faso’s leader was oust­ed in yet anoth­er coup in the region back in January.

The polit­i­cal upheaval came at a time when many observers were start­ing to think that mil­i­tary pow­er grabs were a thing of the past in West Africa: Mali had gone eight years with­out one, while Guinea had made it 13 years.


Asso­ci­at­ed Press writ­ers Krista Lar­son in Dakar, Sene­gal, Baba Ahmed in Bamako, Mali; and Boubacar Dial­lo in Conakry, Guinea contributed.