The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, has suspended Burkina Faso in the aftermath of a military coup, making it the third member nation to be punished for a military takeover in only 18 months.
The announcement on Friday by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) comes several days after mutinous soldiers forced democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore to resign.
The soldiers went on state television to announce their military takeover of the country, which they said was under siege from armed groups. The military rulers said Kabore failed to stem the violence that has killed thousands during his time in power.
West African leaders met virtually on Friday to discuss the Burkina Faso coup, and a delegation was expected to travel to the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, in the coming days.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current ECOWAS chairman, called the recent spate of coups in West Africa “a direct violation of our democratic tenets”.
A mission of ECOWAS chiefs of staff flew to Burkina Faso on Saturday, to be followed on Monday by ministerial-level envoys.
The leaders will meet again on February 3 in Accra to assess the outcome of these missions and see whether additional sanctions should be imposed along with the suspension.
The delegation from ECOWAS who, arrived in Ouagadougou is composed of representatives from Benin, Togo and Ghana, and is led by
ECOWAS peace and security commissioner Francis Behanzin of Benin.
The envoys evaluated the situation in the country and briefly discussed with lieutenant-colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the coup leader.
In the past 18 months, the 15-nation ECOWAS has suspended two other members – Guinea and Mali – where coups have occurred.
ECOWAS suspended neighbouring Mali after a coup there in August 2020 and then took similar action against Guinea after the president was overthrown last September.
Mali is also under punishing economic sanctions, including flight bans and asset freezes, after its coup leader failed to organize elections within 18 months as promised.