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    The West African bloc has issued ultimatums to the leaders of the juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso.

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    Following recent coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, West African leaders met on Friday to assess the political situation in the three countries, issuing warnings for failure to restore constitutional order.

    The bloc’s chairman, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, described the three countries as recalcitrant members of the bloc during an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc in Accra, Ghana’s capital.

    “Members of the ECOWAS Authority, I would like to welcome your excellences back to Accra to take stock of where we are with our three recalcitrant member states – Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso – so that appropriate decisions on the way forward can be made,” he said. “I’d like to express my gratitude once more for the short notice you provided.”

    According to the final communique issued after the meeting, the West African leaders gave Mali’s transitional authorities 12 to 16 months to organize elections.

    In August 2020 and May 2021, Mali experienced two coups.

    In September, the military deposed Guinean President Alpha Conde.

    The Mali junta promised elections in February but later changed its mind, saying elections would be held in 2026, a move that the ECOWAS rejected.

    The bloc invited Mali’s interim president, Col. Assimi Goita, to attend the meeting in person on Friday, but he declined, preferring to participate virtually.

    According to the communique, ECOWAS regretted Goita’s failure to attend the summit to find a solution to the current situation.

    Burkina Faso has requested the release of its former president.

    Meanwhile, the bloc has asked Burkina Faso’s interim leaders to cut a proposed 36-month transition period to a “more acceptable timeline.”

    “Deep concern” was also expressed by the leaders about former Burkina Faso leader Rock Kabore’s continued detention since the coup, despite several calls for his unconditional release.

    It demanded Kabore’s release “no later than March 31, 2022,” after which the transitional authorities would face individual sanctions.

    Guinea was also asked by ECOWAS to present a “acceptable transition timetable” by the end of April.

    Individual sanctions against members of the government and the National Transitional Council (CNT) would be imposed after that deadline, it warned.

    Mali and Guinea have already been sanctioned by ECOWAS for delaying the restoration of constitutional order.

    The leaders decided to keep the sanctions in place that were put in place in January.

    Burkina Faso was suspended from all ECOWAS bodies until constitutional order was restored, according to the bloc.

    Burkina Faso was suspended from ECOWAS, along with Mali and Guinea, after the military ousted President Kabore.

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