The ECOWAS summit, which was held in Accra on Thursday, did not result in any new position taken by the body vis-à-vis Mali, Guinea or Burkina Faso. ECOWAS seems above all concerned with its survival.
Fifteen Member States, including three suspended in six months. The "union of heads of state" is losing more and more of its members. And continues to distill sanctions against countries that bring down their respective presidents.
Regarding Burkina Faso, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has postponed the adoption of maximum sanctions against the country's military authorities, who brought down President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
By examining the final communiqué of the summit of heads of state of ECOWAS, held this Thursday in Accra, we quickly realize that, if ECOWAS threatens the Burkina junta in the same way as Mali or Guinea, putting the pressure on the country's army, the sub-regional body seems to be out of ideas.
ECOWAS offers "support for the transitional authorities" in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, but at the same time asks for an "acceptable" timetable for the elections to be implemented.
Apparently, ECOWAS could well have more to lose than to gain, by imposing its sanctions. Because three member states of the body have already been suspended in eight months. ECOWAS has also decided to apply a blockade on Mali, which it does not intend to lift. And last Tuesday the failed coup in Guinea-Bissau nearly enucleated another country from the putrefied body of the West African regional body.
Now decried by the populations of all the countries of the sub-region, ECOWAS seems only slightly concerned by its non-existent authority, its reputation and its irremediably eroded popularity.
The survival of ECOWAS, a real challenge
It should be noted that the three countries suspended from ECOWAS – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – represent more than a third of the territory of the sub-region. Apart from three countries, the body will also lose all the quorums necessary for the conduct of business within all its bodies. In other words, if West Africa records three new coups this year, it will be total paralysis within the sub-regional body.
First victim of the West African coups: the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), a quarter of whose members are now suspended. If the putsch in Guinea-Bissau had succeeded, the BCEAO would have been unable to adopt its next budget. One example among many others.
For this reason, ECOWAS has also decided, following its recent summit, to deploy the Ecomig - the White Helmets - in Guinea-Bissau, in order to consolidate the position of President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, which the body needs. for its survival. The Bissau-Guinean president is far from being popular with several heads of state of ECOWAS, but it is in the interest of the latter to protect him at all costs, in the same way as his counterparts.
And the current president of ECOWAS says it openly: there is "a contagion of coups d'etat", deplores Nana Akufo-Addo. But if the reasons, and their degree of legitimacy, like that of the leaders of the putschs, vary, the result is the same. ECOWAS is, today, amputated. And if the authority continues both to sanction the countries in transition, while supporting the despotic reign or the weak governance of certain Heads of State, obeying the finger and the eye to the Franco-European diktat, the "contagion will only be more legitimate for the military and the populations of the member countries.
- Unpredictable 🇲🇱🇮🇪 (@ Hadji1006) February 2, 2022
Euphemisms or a way of speaking?
Nevertheless, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kasso Brou, clearly specifies the predisposition of ECOWAS to discuss with the authorities. “We hired them. And they have expressed interest in working with ECOWAS for the restoration of constitutional order,” Brou said.
On the other hand, ECOWAS gave the Malian authorities a chance to "redeem themselves". Thursday's summit communiqué speaks of a possible "gradual lifting of sanctions" against Mali. However, this goal would only be achievable if the Malian authorities quickly proposed "a timetable acceptable to ECOWAS".
The conference of ECOWAS Heads of State concludes with its "commitment to strengthening democracy and good governance in the region", and its "concern at the cases of violation of the constitutional order in the region, in particular through military coups”. Two principles that challenge, while sitting in the assembly, Alassane Ouattara, Faure Gnassingbé, or Patrice Talon, all three very little respectful of their respective Constitutions.
it seems @ecowas_cedeao is learning. Aside from being suspended, no sanctions on #BurkinaFaso🇧🇫 and a willingness to work on transition support mechanism with @UN🇺🇳 & @_AfricanUnion. Sanctions (mostly ineffective to date) stay on #Mali🇲🇱 & #Guinea🇬🇳, but off-ramps are left open. https://t.co/OKCIs6QBQv
—Dr. J. Peter Pham 🇺🇲 (@DrJPPham) February 3, 2022