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Akufo-Addo: Collective, decisive action needed to address ECOWAS instability

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on his colleague West African heads of state to find ways, as a matter of urgency, to deal collectively and decisively with the re-emergence of military coups in the sub-region before the trend devastates the entire region.

Addressing the opening session in Accra of an extraordinary summit of the Authority of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the political situation in Burkina Faso, on Thursday 3 February 2022, as the chair of the Commission, President Akufo-Addo said the emerging threat of coups in the ECOWAS sub-region ought to be “addressed jointly and authoritatively before it gets out of hand”.

In the lead-up to today’s summit, speaking at the virtual ECOWAS summit held on 28 January 2022, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned recent military takeovers in three West African states, namely Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali.

The string of coups d’état, ongoing jihadist activities in the sub-region and the spread of COVID-19 have made the region a toxic zone, he said.

“Let us address this dangerous trend collectively and decisively before it devastates the whole region. Excellencies, the resurgence of coups d’état in our region is a matter of grave concern,” President Akufo-Addo said in his opening remarks.

“This evolution challenges the democratic way of life we have chosen. We need to stand firm to protect democracy and freedom in our region,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Burkina Faso

In a communiqué issued after the summit, the Authority of Heads of State, taking a position on the situation in Burkina Faso, “took note of the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the country” and called for a “quick return to constitutional order” to deal effectively with the outbreaks of political disorder.

“The Authority reiterates its absolute condemnation of the coup d’état of 24 January 2022 and expresses concern over the continuous detention of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré,” the communiqué said. “In this regard, and subject to sanctions, the Authority demands the unconditional release of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.”

Furthermore, the ECOWAS heads of state upheld “the suspension of Burkina Faso from all ECOWAS institutions until the restoration of constitutional order“. They also called on the “military authorities to establish the transition institutions, adopt a transition calendar and facilitate the return to constitutional order as soon as possible”.

Guinea situation

On the political situation in the Republic of Guinea, the Authority said that it “takes note of the recent establishment of the National Transition Council (CNT) as the legislative body”.

However, the Authority expressed “concern over the unavailability of the required transition calendar five months after the coup d’état, as requested by the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government held on 16 September 2021”.

Consequently, it decided “to uphold all the sanctions already imposed on Guinea” and requested of the Conakry-based “Transition Authority” to “provide to ECOWAS an acceptable timetable for restoring constitutional order”, while reaffirming “its [the Authority’s] readiness to accompany Guinea towards the speedy return to constitutional order”.

Developments in Mali

The Authority welcomed the conclusions of the 1,057th meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union, held on 14 January 2022, which endorsed all ECOWAS decisions and sanctions on Mali.

According to the communiqué, “the Authority regrets the unavailability of a new timetable in line with the decisions of the Authority” and, consequently, it has decided to “uphold all the sanctions imposed on Mali, in line with its decision of 9 January 2022”.

The heads of state and government also urged “the Malian authorities to urgently propose an acceptable electoral timetable to ECOWAS with a view to enabling the progressive lifting of the sanctions”.

Read the full communiqué below:

Wilberforce Asare

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