West Africa’s main regional bloc yesterday suspended Burkina Faso from its governing bodies over this week’s military coup but stopped short of imposing any sanctions, its member states said in a statement.
Burkina Faso’s army overthrew President Roch Kabore on Monday, presenting the latest test to the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which has struggled to mount an effective response to a series of coups in the region over the past 18 months.
A delegation of Ecowas defence chiefs will travel to Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou today, followed by a ministerial mission a few days later, the statement said.
Heads of Ecowas member states will reconvene for another summit in Ghana’s capital Accra on Feb 3 to discuss the findings of the two delegations. Ecowas and its international allies have condemned the coup in Burkina Faso, which they fear could further destabilise a country beset by militant violence, but find themselves with limited leverage. The bloc’s decision to not sanction Burkina Faso contrasted with its response to coups in Mali and Burkina Faso, with which Ecowas member states closed borders and imposed some economic sanctions after military takeovers in May and September.
Ecowas sanctions on the juntas in Mali and Guinea have done little to sway their behaviour, however, nor did they deter the latest coup.
The bloc could still choose to sanction Burkina Faso when members reconvene next week. Pro-democracy activists say Ecowas is suffering from a crisis of credibility, with West Africans losing faith in regional leaders they see as manipulating the democratic process and failing to alleviate poverty or contain militant violence.
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