West Africa’s main regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has imposed sanctions against the military government in Guinea and those in Mali, its toughest response yet to a run of military takeovers.
The move was agreed at an emergency summit of the ECOWAS in Accra to respond to last week’s putsch in Guinea and perceived slow progress towards constitutional rule in Mali following a coup last year.
Regional heads of state decided to freeze the financial assets and impose travel bans on Guinea’s military leaders and their relatives, insisting on the release of former president Alpha Conde and a short transition.
“In six months elections should be held,” said ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou at a briefing.
The bloc also piled more pressure on Mali’s transitional government, demanding they stick to an agreement to organise elections for February 2022 and present an electoral roadmap by next month, according to the post-summit communique.
Anyone in Mali hindering preparations for the elections faces the same sanctions as those imposed in Guinea, it said.
Leaders who took part in the summit hailed this more hardline stance. West and Central Africa has seen four coups since last year – political upheaval that has intensified concerns about a backslide towards military rule in a resource-rich but poverty-stricken region.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is ECOWAS chairman, had said in remarks before a closed-door session that he hoped the heads of state will help offer durable solutions to the crisis.
On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said it was closely monitoring the situation in Guinea and called for a peaceful resolution.