On Saturday, the Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Accra. Failing to agree on the new measures vis-à-vis Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, the summit was postponed.
The ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit, which was held in the Ghanaian capital Accra last Saturday, has finally been diverted from its agenda. The meeting of the Conference of Heads of State of ECOWAS was to be devoted to examining the political situation in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali. Ultimately, ECOWAS decisions on modifying, easing or imposing new sanctions on the three countries will await the next summit, scheduled for July 3.
Nevertheless, the mountain did not give birth to a mouse. On the one hand, the head of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, has been appointed as the next governor of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). The Ivorian will take up his new duties "from July 4, 2022, as soon as he leaves ECOWAS", announced Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.
On the other hand, for his first mission for ECOWAS since leaving the presidency of Niger in April 2021, Mohammadou Issoufou has been appointed mediator for Burkina Faso. It should “facilitate dialogue between stakeholders”. Issoufou will travel to Ouagadougou in the coming days, therefore, to meet the head of the Burkinabe junta, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
Some decisions taken during this summit in Accra, concerning the 🇧🇫#BurkinaFaso :
-Maintenance of the country's suspension from all ECOWAS bodies.
-Mahamadou ISSOUFOU, former president of Niger, appointed ECOWAS mediator
- # AFRICA24 (@ AFRICA24TV) June 5, 2022
ECOWAS is still negotiating despite the humanitarian crisis
Despite the two new appointments from ECOWAS, this new summit in Accra remains a disappointment. This is the first meeting of the West African body since the announcement by the military authorities of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali of the transition period planned in their countries. Mali has revised its first announcement of a transition of "less than five years", saying it is ready to accept a transition of 24 months. While Guinea and Burkina Faso have both decided that 36 months will be needed to prepare for the elections.
Despite this, Mali is the only one of the three countries still suffering from an embargo that has brought the country's economy to its knees. A recent UN report indicates that the ECOWAS sanctions have "severely affected" the Malian economy and "worsened living conditions, especially those of the poor". However, on the side of ECOWAS, heads of state continue to negotiate with Bamako. Senegalese President Macky Sall said in May: "We can agree on a deadline between 16 and 24 months." If Mali wants to return to the bosom of the West African community, Assimi Goïta will have to make new concessions.
With regard to Burkina Faso, ECOWAS has “taken into account the efforts made by the transitional authorities, despite the challenges”. A nod to the securing, by the army of Burkina Faso, of several localities in the north of the country, where thousands of displaced people have returned to their cities. An army operation on May 26 killed the cell of Tidiane Djbrilou Dicko, one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in the region.
Muhammadu Buhari, the surprise guest to help Mali
The presence of the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, was the big surprise of the Accra Summit on Saturday. The Nigerian head of state, despite being very influential within the body due to his country's large participation in ECOMOG troops, has often boycotted ECOWAS meetings. According to a source close to the subject, Buhari does not get on well with the heads of state of the UEMOA countries, with the exception of the Senegalese Macky Sall.
Buhari's presence is significant, even if the Nigerian president is at the end of his mandate. During his intervention on Saturday, he asked that “additional measures” be taken to “ensure the safety and full freedom” of the former president of Burkina Faso Roch Kaboré.
With regard to Mali, Buhari says: “We must ensure that whatever decisions we make, we remember the populations who are victims of the harmful consequences of the isolation caused”. Muhammadu Buhari recalled a proposal by his compatriot, in charge of the Malian transition for ECOWAS, Goodluck Jonathan, to extend the duration of the transition to 18 months. The Nigerian president proposed that Macky Sall and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo travel personally to Bamako to present this proposal to the Malian authorities.
This explains, therefore, the lack of agreement which pushed back the decisions on Mali for July 3rd. Nigeria's support will be an important factor in relations between Bamako and ECOWAS. And with the sanctions against Mali beginning to weigh on the economies of the countries of the bloc, notably Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal, it is more than likely that they will be lifted soon.