Ecowas maintains sanctions on Mali, Guinea Burkina Faso

By Mohammed Momoh

Olivia Rouamba (centre), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, speaks during a joint press conference with Morissanda Kouyaté (left), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guinea and Abdoulaye Diop (right), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali, in Ouagadougou, on February 9, 2023.

A bid by three Western African countries, still under military rule, to rejoin the African Union (AU) flopped on Sunday after their local bloc, Ecowas, maintained sanctions imposed on them.

It means Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso’s concerted effort of seeking to rejoin the African Union failed. The three countries, under junta leadership for more than a year had fronted arguments before leaders of the African Union on Thursday, explaining the need for their suspension to be lifted.

Normally, the African Union suspends countries that undergo unconstitutional changes in government such as coups until they provide a regular programme to resume civilian leadership. But the AU often follows the decisions of local regional blocs who act like immediate firefighters to the crises.

Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso were indefinitely suspended at various times between 2020 and 2022. And the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) imposed sanctions, initially barring trading with neighbours.

On Sunday, on the margins of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, leaders of ECOWAS rejected a joint request by Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso to lift sanctions imposed on them and their suspension of membership both in Ecowas and the AU following the military takeover of governments in the three countries.

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