Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States rose from their one-day emergency meeting in Accra on Friday with a demand on the juntas in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso to come clear on their transitional timelines.
Mr Jean-Claude Brou, president of the ECOWAS Commission, told a press conference that the heads of stextended the transition period for the Malian junta by 12-16 months, instead of 24 months that they have now proposed.
They said this is in addition to the initial 18 months that was agreed in September 2020 after the first coup staged by Col. Assimi Goita. The Malian junta had initially asked for five years but that was reduced to four years. They have one month until 25 April to come out with a decision on the ECOWAS deadline.
Mr. Brou said the ECOWAS mediator on Mali, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, had held a series of meetings with the junta and stakeholders on the transition.
He said based on the difficulties in reaching an agreement with the junta, the heads of state invited Col. Goita to the Accra meeting to listen to him and have a discussion on the issues but he did not turn up.
ECOWAS early this year imposed stiff financial and economic sanctions on Mali and the heads of state noted that these were biting.
Mr. Brou said in the absence of Col. Goita, the ECOWAS heads of state had to work only with the report of former president Jonathan.
The ECOWAS leaders said once an agreement is reached on the transition timeline, "the sanctions will begin to be lifted".
On Guinea, Mr. Brou said the heads of state noted "some progress" as former president Alpha Conde has been allowed to travel outside for health reasons while a Transitional council has been installed.
However, "there are key elements of concern", especially on the transition timelines.
Nothing has happened since ECOWAS gave the junta 6 months for election, thus creating "tremendous uncertainties", Mr Brou said.
The ECOWAS leaders are demanding an acceptable transition timeline in one month by April 25 warning that "beyond this time, economic and financial sanctions will kick in".
There are also tensions in the country between the junta and political parties and the leaders asked the junta "to bring in inclusivity in the discussions on the transition." ECOWAS will also name a facilitator for Guinea.
On Burkina Faso, Mr Brou said since the January coup, the junta has refused to yield to the ECOWAS leaders' demand for the unconditional release of ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kabore from house arrest, describing the attitude as "unacceptable".
Mr. Brou also said the heads of state noted that the junta is asking for a transitional timeline of 36 months, but this "is too long".
They reiterated their demand for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Kabore and an agreement on the transition timeline in one month to 25 April "beyond which "financial and economic sanctions will kick in".
-0- PANA MA 25March2022