Ecowas is applying carrot and stick tactics in its handling of the defiant military juntas in Guinea and Mali, with sanctions for the former and more room for diplomacy with the latter.
Bamako and Conakry were the subjects of talks at the Ecowas Extraordinary Summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The situation in Guinea, ruled by a junta since the fall of President Alpha Conde in September 2021, is getting worse.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an extraordinary summit on September 22 in New York and pronounced "gradual sanctions at the diplomatic, economic and financial levels" against Guinea.
Following this position by trhe regional body, ambassadors of ECOWAS member countries in Conakry are being recalled for consultation.
Regional leaders also decided to suspend "all financial assistance and transactions in favour of Guinea by the institutions of ECOWAS, in particular the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID)".
The sub-regional institution maintained its sanctions against personalities of the Guinean transition: freezing their financial assets and imposing a travel ban on them.
This also applies to "any other person seeking to prevent the return to constitutional order in Guinea within a reasonable time".
The day before the New York summit, the Bissau-Guinean Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who is the current chair of Ecowas had announced "tough sanctions" against Guinea if the junta did not reduce the duration of the transition from 36 to 24 months.
Sissoco Embalo's words did not please Guinea where the Secretary General of the Presidency of the transition, Colonel Amara Camara, described as a lie the alleged agreement referred to by the Bissauguinean leader for a transition period of 24 months in his interview with RFI and France 24.
In its final communiqué, Ecowas "calls on the Guinean authorities to accept within one month, from September 22, 2022, a reasonable transition period, or face a penalty of more severe sanctions.
Common ground for Doumbouya and Goita
While the summit of Ecowas heads of state was in New York condemned the continued detention of 46 Ivorian soldiers in Bamako, the Guinean and Malian junta leaders were celebration an independence anniversary.
To resolve the row over the detained soldiers, the regional organisation will despatch to Mali "a high-level mission composed of the presidents of Ghana, Senegal and Togo to obtain their release.
The detainees have been described as mercenaries by the Malian junta.
Abidjan denied this, saying that the soldiers, belonging to its army, were on Malian soil as part of the support mechanism for UN missions.
Receiving the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 9, Colonel Assimi Goïta urged the release of the Ivorian soldiers in exchange for the extradition from Abidjan of alleged dissidents wanted in Mali for prosecution.
Togolese mediation at the behest of Bamako had previously facilitated the release of three of the 49 soldiers arrested on July 10.
It was agreed with the various parties to continue talks for a resolution of the crisis.