ACCRA, Ghana -- West African heads have resisted further punishment of leaders of Mali and Guinea at a summit Saturday. However, coup leaders from all three countries insist that new elections will not be possible for many years.
Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of ECOWAS Commission, stated that the 15-nation regional bloc known collectively as ECOWAS will meet again on July 3, before deciding if additional sanctions will be applied in the three member states suspended.
Already in January, ECOWAS imposed severe economic sanctions on Mali. This included closing down all commerce and severing land and air borders with other members of the bloc. These measures have severely impacted Mali's economy and raised concerns about the humanitarian implications for Malians.
However, the sanctions have not brought about any political breakthrough: Col. Assimi Goita, who pulled out of a French regional security force, and shut down two major French media outlets, has further isolated the country.
Goita's government insists that no vote may be held before 2024. This would increase their power to almost four years, despite initially agreeing to an 18 month transition back to democracy.
The juntas of Guinea and Burkina Faso have also proposed three-year transitions. However, ECOWAS rejected them as too long a delay for new elections.
In August 2020, Goita and his soldiers overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president. Nine months later, Goita carried out another coup when he fired the civilian leader of the transitional government and was elected president.
In September 2021, Mutinous soldiers overthrew Guinea's president. Burkina Faso's leader was also deposed in a coup in the same region in January.
Many observers began to believe that West Africa's military power grabs had ended. Mali was without one for eight years, while Guinea had had one for thirteen years.
Krista Larson, Associated Press writer in Dakar (Senegal), Baba Ahmed in Bamako Mali; Boubacar Diallo from Conakry, Guinea, contributed.