In Burkina Faso as in Guinea, the ultimatum given by ECOWAS expired yesterday, Monday 25 April. However, the military authorities in power have still not complied with the injunctions of the sub-regional organisation.
The colonels in power in Burkina Faso and Guinea had until yesterday 25 April to dispel doubts about their willingness to hand over power to civilians as soon as possible by presenting an acceptable timetable for the end of the transition. Otherwise, heavy economic and financial sanctions would be imposed on their respective countries, as was the case in Mali recently. This is indeed the ultimatum issued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at its last summit held in Accra on 25 March. At the same time, the West African presidents called on the Guinean and Burkinabe authorities to release without delay the former presidents deposed in the coups d’état of 5 September 2021 and 24 January 2022 respectively.
Read also: Coups in Africa: ECOWAS maintains sanctions against Mali and draws the red line to Guinea and Burkina-Faso
What does Burkina Faso say about ECOWAS threats?
Taking note of ecowas threats, Burkina Faso’s transitional government said on Monday that it does not plan to shorten the three-year transition period before civilians return to power, as its West African neighbours had asked.
“Discussions are continuing, Burkina Faso is in a very good position to hear the remarks of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” said Lionel Bilgo, government spokesman reported by AFP on Africanews.
According to him, the said calendar required by the West African organisation is far from being in line with the realities of the Burkinabe. He added: “On the other hand, we are not going to sacrifice our efforts to bring peace to Burkina Faso by running after an intangible timetable that does not take into account the realities on the ground.
It is clear that the new authorities in Ouagadougou are not yet ready to hand over power to civilians. Moreover, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, in a speech to the nation at the beginning of April, had indicated that the three-year transition period before a return to constitutional order had been decided “in a consensual manner by all the living forces of our nation” and by taking “into account a reality which is the only real concern of the Burkinabe people at the moment, namely the security situation”. He added: “The sooner we get this situation under control, the sooner we can begin to return to a normal constitutional order.
Nevertheless, Colonel Damiba and his team chose the path of reason by releasing former president Roch Marc Kaboré as demanded by ECOWAS.
In Guinea, the duration of the transition is not yet determined
In Guinea Conakry, the situation does not seem to be evolving at the pace of the regional organisation. Indeed, the duration of the transition is not yet determined. Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya refers to the decision that will come out of the national conference currently underway in the country and which ends on 29 April. However, on Friday 22 April, three days before the end of the ultimatum, the National Committee for Rally and Development (CNRD) announced in a communiqué the “total release of Alpha Condé”.
In addition, a question needs to be asked. Are the releases of the former presidents alone enough to calm the ECOWAS leaders and cancel the planned sanctions? Anyway, ECOWAS will assess and decide whether Burkina Faso and Guinea will be classified in the same way as Mali. Indeed, it should be recalled that Bamako is subject to economic and financial sanctions that came into force on 9 January and were maintained by the 25 March summit. A kind of containment that did not, however, lead Assimi Goïta to change his position. According to the latest news, Bamako is still committed to a 24-month transition while ECOWAS has demanded 16 months.