The West African regional bloc is canceling Burkina Faso’s membership due to a coup

West Africa’s main regional bloc on Friday shut down Burkina Faso from its governing bodies over this week’s military coup and decided to send a delegation to the capital Ouagadougou, two diplomatic sources told Reuters.

Burkina Faso’s army overthrew President Roch Kabore on Monday and presented the latest test to the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has been fighting for an effective response to a series of coups in the region over the past 18 months.

It was not immediately known what other sanctions ECOWAS leaders may have decided to impose during an emergency video conference. An official statement was expected later in the day.

ECOWAS and its international allies have condemned the coup in Burkina Faso, which they fear could further destabilize a country plagued by Islamist violence but with limited influence.

ECOWA’s sanctions against the junta who seized power in Mali and Guinea have not done much to influence their behavior, nor have they discouraged the latest coup.

Pro-democracy activists say ECOWAS is suffering from a credibility crisis, with West Africans losing faith in regional leaders they see as manipulating the democratic process and failing to alleviate poverty or curb Islamist violence.

In her introductory speeches to the summit, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Acting President of ECOWAS, acknowledged that the organization has a job to do in convincing people of the benefits of democracy.

“The events in the region tell us that not everyone has accepted democracy as the preferred way of governing,” Akufo-Addo said.

He added that the rest of the world looked to ECOWAS “to be determined on this issue”.

Protests in Mali over sanctions ECOWAS imposed sanctions on Mali and Guinea following military takeovers in August 2020 and September 2021, respectively.

It sharply tightened sanctions on Mali this month after the transitional government there reverted to an earlier commitment to hold elections in February. The new restrictions included closing Member States’ borders with Mali and freezing most financial transactions.

But the hard line has undoubtedly struck back by increasing the junta’s support at home. Protests against the sanctions took tens of thousands out into the streets.

As in Mali, Burkina Faso’s coup was triggered in part by public frustration over insecurity caused by an uprising by militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The violence has killed thousands and displaced millions across the Sahel region in recent years.

The coup leader, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, said on Thursday that Burkina Faso would return to constitutional order “when the conditions are right”.

The European Union has said it will comply with ECOWAS when imposing sanctions on Mali. When asked by Reuters on Friday whether it also planned to impose sanctions on Burkina Faso, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell asked the question.


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