West African leaders meet coup-stricken neighbors on agenda

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — West African leaders attended a summit on Sunday as their regional bloc continues its efforts to resolve the political deadlock in the coup-hit countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

A summit last month by the Economic Community of West African States postponed the imposition of further economic and financial sanctions against the three countries. They were suspended from the bloc following military coups and are under international pressure to hold democratic elections.

The Malian authorities recently announced a transition roadmap that includes scheduling presidential elections for February 2024 and a constitutional referendum in March 2023.

It remains to be seen whether the participants in Sunday’s summit in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, will participate. will accept the proposal.

ECOWAS sanctioned Mali in January by cutting most trade with the country, along with land and air borders with other countries in the bloc. The measures have paralyzed the Malian economy.

The juntas in Guinea and Burkina Faso have proposed three-year transition periods, which ECOWAS rejected as waiting too long for elections.

The wave of military coups began in August 2020, when Colonel Assimi Goita and other soldiers overthrew Mali’s democratically elected president. Nine months later, he staged a second coup, firing the country’s transitional civilian leader and assuming the presidency himself.

Mutinous soldiers overthrew the president of Guinea in September 2021, and the leader of Burkina Faso was ousted in a coup d’état in January.

The political upheaval came when many observers began to think that military coups in West Africa were a thing of the past.