Sat. May 28th, 2022

West Africa regional bloc suspends Burkina Faso days after rioting forces forced President Kabore to resign.

The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, suspended Burkina Faso in the wake of a military coupmaking it the third member state to be punished for a military takeover in just 18 months.

The announcement by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Friday comes several days after rebellious soldiers forced the democratically elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore to resign.

The soldiers went on state television to announce their military takeover of the country, which they said was under siege by armed groups. The military rulers said Kabore had failed to stem the violence that had killed thousands during his time in power.

West African leaders met virtually on Friday to discuss the coup in Burkina Faso, and a delegation is expected to travel to Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, in the coming days.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of ECOWAS, called the recent wave of coups in West Africa “a direct violation of our democratic principles”.

“The rest of the world is looking up to us to be firm on this issue,” he said.

A consignment of ECOWAS chiefs of staff will fly to Burkina Faso on Saturday, followed by envoys at ministerial level on Monday.

The leaders will meet again on February 3 in Accra to evaluate the outcome of these missions and see if additional sanctions should be imposed along with suspension, a summit told the AFP news agency.

At the virtual summit, which lasted about three hours, the ECOWAS leaders also demanded the release of Kabore and other detained leaders.

The bloc issued a statement of condemnation of the coup on Tuesday, accusing the military of forcing Kabore to resign “under threat, intimidation and pressure”.

In the past 18 months, the 15 countries ECOWAS have suspended two other members – Guinea and Mali – where coups took place.

ECOWAS suspended neighboring Mali after a coup there in August 2020 and then took similar steps against Guinea after the president was overthrown last September.

Mali is also under punitive economic sanctions, including flight bans and asset freezes, after its coup leader failed to arrange elections within 18 months as promised.

ECOWAS has come under fire for its handling of the coups, particularly in Mali where mediators have negotiated with the military government over the 18-month deadline for holding democratic elections.

Mali’s coup leader said it would not be complied with, citing security conditions, and instead announced a vote four years from now.

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