The military juntas in Guinea and Burkina Faso have not set transition timetables as requested by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The regional organization’s ultimatum has expired. It gave Burkina and Guinea Faso an April 25 deadline to receive a “reasonable” timetable for a return to civilian rule. But the ruling military in Ouagadougou and Conakry have asked for more time to pursue consultations leading to the end of the transition.
Burkina Faso was the first to react, as early as April 22, according to a statement released by ECOWAS on Wednesday, April 27. Led since January 24 by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba after the overthrow of Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the country is asking for “additional time beyond the deadline to continue consultations on various pending issues.”
Guinea, led by Lieutenant Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya since the September 2021 coup against Alpha Conde, also wants “more time in relation to the April 25, 2022 deadline to allow for further consultations,” ECOWAS said. It stresses that the country has “presented recent developments in the transition process.” The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Morissanda Kouyate, went to Accra, Ghana, on the last day of the ultimatum, to discuss and negotiate with Nana Akufo-Addo, the current President of the Conference of Heads of State of ECOWAS.
While several observers feared sanctions after the end of their formal notice, ECOWAS “has decided to send missions to these two countries to prepare a report for the summit” of Heads of State, scheduled for May. All scenarios are then possible for Ouagadougou and Conakry.
However, the embargo imposed on Mali by ECOWAS last January has not resulted in a shorter transition. Using the unstable security situation in the country as an excuse, they proposed a timetable of five years and then two years before holding elections. But none of these proposals were accepted by the regional organization, which therefore decided to maintain its sanctions.
Burkina and Guinea, however, are two different cases. While the first country has chosen to conduct its transition over three years, the second has not yet presented a transition timetable. This makes its situation “more complicated,” says a diplomat, at a time when tensions are noted in the political climate with the prospect of new demonstrations to denounce the slow progress of the authorities.