The summit of the Authority of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Accra last Saturday to deliberate on the political situations in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso was very important.
The importance of the extraordinary summit was based on the fact that it reviewed reports presented by former Nigerian President, Goodluck Johnathan, on the situation in Mali, the reports of ECOWAS Assessment Mission to Burkina Faso and the report on the situation in Guinea presented by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, chaired by Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
The summit, convened by the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was attended by other regional leaders, as well as former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, currently the Mediator in the Malian crisis, Mousa Faki Mahamat, President of the African Union Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, among other dignitaries.
It is clear that even though the regional leaders were not satisfied with the reports they received and reviewed, they had to exercise restraint in taking certain decisions that are likely to affect the citizens of the three countries suffering political crisis.
This is seen in their refusal to impose further sanctions on the three military rulers.
Already, the countries’ membership of ECOWAS, the regional body is suspended and that has implications for their political and socio-economic relationships with their neighbours.
Looking at the circumstances, it was only appropriate that the regional leaders asked Burkina Faso’s transitional authorities, for instance, to sustain momentum towards enhancing security in the country and appealed to the international community to strengthen its humanitarian support to Burkina Faso.
The Ghanaian Times agrees that ECOWAS raised concerns about the 36-month transition period set by the Burkinabe but must be clear about what it describes as an acceptable transition timetable.
The leaders have already chosen to go by the diplomatic path and therefore, must dialogue with the Burkinabe transitional team for a timetable acceptable by all.
Such dialogue definitely dovetails into the stance by ECOWAS to adopt similar diplomatic options to resolve the political crises in the three affected countries.
We view the appointment of former Nigerien President, Mahamadou Issoufou, as the ECOWAS Mediator for Burkina Faso, to lead dialogue among all stakeholders in that country as appropriate.
Such diplomatic dialogue must be employed even more in Mali, looking at the deteriorating socio-political situation in that country due to lack of an appropriate dialogue framework between the military government on one side and the political stakeholders and civil society organisations on the other.
This would help to ease the socio-political tension in the country and ensure the peaceful transition expected by all.
The Ghanaian Times has a lot of confidence that Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas would exploit his rich experiences in diplomatic matters and international politics to successfully accomplish his assignment as the ECOWAS Mediator in Guinea.
It is expected that when the ECOWAS leaders meet on July 3, 2022, to review the decisions on the three countries, there would be positive grounds to assure the whole world that all parties would act in good faith to ensure peaceful transitions in the three West African countries.