ECOWAS Heads of State Restore Burkina Faso Interim Leader to Power at Extraordinary Summit in Abuja

Following days of political turmoil in Burkina Faso caused by a coup d’etat by the elite President Guards (RSP), ECOWAS heads of state yesterday meeting in an extraordinary summit in Abuja, Nigeria, ordered the restoration to power of Burkina Faso’s Interim President, Michel Kafondo, and called for peace, open-mindedness and a spirit of compromise by all stakeholders.  

In his welcome remarks, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari thanked his colleagues for responding to his invitation on short notice.  He noted that the recent developments in Burkina Faso ran contrary to the expectation and efforts so far undertaken by ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and other international partners to restore constitutional order and democracy in Burkina Faso.

He thanked ECOWAS Chairman President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Boni Yayi of Benin, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission for initiating the peace process of engaging the military junta in Burkina Faso during their September 17 visit to that country.

“I am delighted that there are reports of some measure of understanding reached towards the resolution of the crisis”, the Nigerian Leader stated.

Senegalese President Sall and Benin’s President Yayi visited Burkina Faso last Friday to assess the prevailing situation following Thursday’s coup by elements of the Presidential Guard under the leadership of General Gilbert Diendere.

Presidents Sall and Yayi have been the main ECOWAS mediators before ECOWAS heads of state announced on Tuesday that President Yayi would now be the main Facilitator.

For his part, Senegalese President Sall underlined the importance of granting amnesty to the coup leaders. He stated that amnesty was not a matter of impunity, adding, “If it was successful for others such as South Africa after Apartheid, it is necessary in this case”.

The exhaustive, one-day summit was climaxed by the signing of a Final  Communiqué, which among several issues, urged the coup leaders to lay down their arms, and enjoined other military forces to refrain from using force to prevent the loss of lives. It urged for peace, open mindedness and a spirit of compromise among the stakeholders; and demanded the immediate end to all acts of violence and other human right violations in Burkina Faso.

The West African Leaders also requested ECOWAS, the African Union and the International Community to forgo imposing sanctions on Burkina Faso.

They advocated for adherence to the framework of the existing interim mechanisms, particularly the International Follow-up and Support Group for the Transition in Burkina Faso (GISAT-BF), and close collaboration among all stakeholders in providing support and monitoring of the process. The ECOWAS Authority underscored the urgency of deploying military and human right observers from ECOWAS to Burkina Faso, to monitor the respect for human rights.

ECOWAS leaders also decided to dispatch to Ouagadougou on 23 September 2015, a High Committee of Heads of State and Government comprising Benin, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, under the chairmanship of President Sall to be accompanied with their respective Chiefs of Defense Staff.

The Committee, according to the Final Communiqué, is mandated to facilitate a constructive dialogue among the different components of the defense and security forces.

The Authority recommended for Burkinabe authorities to establish a compensation fund for the victims of the coup, and encouraged all partners of Burkina Faso and ECOWAS to contribute to the fund. The regional leaders observed a moment of silence for all those who died in last week’s protest in Burkina Faso.

Hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Tuesday’s ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on Burkina Faso was attended Presidents Boni Yayi of Benin, Macky Sall of Senegal, and John Dramani Mahama of Ghana. Other heads of state in attendance were Presidents Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.

Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is in New York, the United States of America, for the United Nations General Assembly’s 70th Session.

Also in attendance were the Prime Ministers of Guinea and Mali, Mohammed Fofana and Modibo Keita, respectively, while the ambassadors of Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone represented their respective countries.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, Vice President Dr. Toga McIntosh and other top executives of ECOWAS, and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas also attended the summit which was held Tuesday at the Presidential Conference Center of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

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