The Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS suspended the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali yesterday, Sunday, July 3. They also gave Burkina Faso a 24-month transition period before civilians return to power, starting July 1, 2022. And at the same time, they opened the door to dialogue in Guinea Conakry. This was at the end of the 61st Summit of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Accra on Sunday.
Under economic sanctions imposed by ECOWAS since January 9, Mali can now breathe a sigh of relief. The regional organization has just lightened the retaliatory measures in favor of the country of which Assimi Goîta took the reins after the successful coup on May 24, 2021. “The summit decided to suspend all economic and financial sanctions as of today,” Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, outgoing president of the ECOWAS Commission, told a press conference.
Thus, this Sunday in Accra, the Heads of State and Government of the West African Organization decided to reopen Mali’s air and land borders with the other ECOWAS member countries. “They also decided that the sanctions taken in terms of recall of ambassadors of ECOWAS member countries, be also suspended, so the ambassadors will be able to return to Bamako, Mali,” added Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.
However, the junta’s dream of passing an electoral law that would allow the military to run in the presidential election has not been a reality. “The heads of state have made it clear that in accordance with the charter, the junta’s military cannot be candidates in the presidential election,” he said.
In addition, the other restrictions maintained against Mali at the end of the summit are the financial sanctions targeting the Malian junta in power. Similarly, Mali’s suspension from ECOWAS bodies until constitutional order is restored remains in effect. It should be noted that in recent weeks, Malian authorities have announced a fairly acceptable schedule for the electoral process. Thus, a constitutional referendum is scheduled for March 19, 2023, legislative elections for October 29, 2023 and presidential elections for February 4, 2024, according to the junta.
Burkina-Faso, transition period set at 24 months
West African leaders also addressed the transition period in Burkina Faso and suspended all threats of sanctions against the country. Thus, the said summit set at 24 months, the reign of the military in power, starting from last July 1, while the leading team until then, had estimated it at 36 months. “On Burkina Faso, we asked the junta to reconsider. It asked for 36 months. Today everyone agrees that it is 24 months of transition from July 1, 2022,” a summit participant assured AFP on condition of anonymity.
What about the situation in Guinea Conakry
Following the suspension of economic sanctions against Mali and Burkina-Faso, ECOWAS decided to open dialogue with Conakry by dismissing the spectre of sanctions for the time being, even though Guinea is still suspended from ECOWAS bodies. As a result, the former president of Benin, Thomas Boni Yayi, was appointed as mediator to reconcile the positions between the sub-regional organization and Mamadi Doumbouya’s team. His responsibility is to calm down and succeed in establishing an acceptable timetable for the transition, in collaboration with the military in charge in this West African country. The Guinean authorities have so far proposed 39 months for the transition, which the leaders of CEDEAO reject. Boni Yayi’s choice came at a time when the military authorities in Conakry had already rejected Ibn Chambas as a mediator in the country.
This 61st session of ECOWAS has also allowed the sub-regional organization to get a new president. It is the Bissau-Guinean, Umaro Sissoko Emballo.