Ecowas Sanctions On Guinea & Mali For Military Take-Overs: How Feasible?

News from the recent ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held in Accra, Ghana to review the political situations in Guinea and Mali, says the Authority of Heads of State and Government has decided to maintain the sanctions imposed on Guinea and Mali.

ECOWAS Summit in Accra, Ghana

The ECOWAS Heads are also insisting that the United Nations, European Union and other organisations should support the impositions of sanctions against the governments in the two countries which are being ruled by military despots who came to power via coup d’états.

The Communiqué at the end of the 3rd Extraordinary Summit on Guinea and Mali, which was presided over by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, who is current Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority, took the following decisions:

  1. The Authority decides to uphold the suspension of the Republic of Guinea from all ECOWAS governing bodies as well as the travel ban and freeze on financial assets imposed on the members of the CNRD and their family members until constitutional order is restored.
  2. Similarly, regarding Mali, the ECOWAS leaders resolved that in conformity with the decision taken on 16th September 2021, the Authority decides to impose sanctions with immediate effect against individuals and groups who have been identified, including the entire transition authorities and the other transition institutions.
  3. These sanctions will also be imposed on the members of their families.
  4. The sanctions include a travel ban and a freeze on their financial assets.
  5. Summit called on the African Union, the United Nations, bilateral and other multilateral partners to endorse and support the implementation of these sanctions.

The Summit further instructed the President of the ECOWAS Commission to consider and propose additional sanctions at its next Ordinary Session on 12th December 2021, should the situation persist.

This is not the first time ECOWAS or indeed African Union leaders are taking such steps against governments that take power with the barrel of the gun. However, such sanctions do not seem to have worked and such undemocratically elected leaders sooner or later become absorbed into the mainstream of the various regional and sub-regional bodies. This may be because the so-called democratically elected African leaders even come to power through contrived electoral processes that can be described as akin to coup d’états, from the way they muscled opposition and continue to perpetrate themselves in power. So any young soldier who comes to power in their country seem to look at their older colleagues as jokes for pointing fingers at the young guns.

Guinean Military President Mamady Doumbouya

The old ones say African countries have gone far beyond military coup as a means of changing political actors and that coups are unacceptable, but how locally and even internationally acceptable are the elections that brought these leaders to power?

When the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government say they will continue to prevail on the military juntas in Guinea and Mali to return their countries to democratic rule, are the governments in their own countries really democratically elected and can they pass the true test of democracy? These are the questions they need to answer before attempting to pluck the splinter out of the eye of the new coupists in power who obviously regard the sanctions as laughable.

Part of the efforts by the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to look into the issues in Guinea and Mali included a high-powered delegation led by the Ghanaian President to Guinea and Mali on the 17th of September and the 17th of October, as part of the resolutions of the previous Summit held on the 16th of September this year. It does not look like the initiatives have been successful.

This is why the ECOWAS Heads still revisited their previous resolutions and reemphasizing as follows:

A. On the political transition in the Republic of Guinea –

  1. The Authority reaffirms its demand for the unconditional release of President Alpha Condé.
  2. The Authority takes note of the recent developments in Guinea, particularly the adoption of the Transition Charter, the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister and the formation of the Transition Government.
  3. It urges the Transition Authorities to urgently submit a detailed timetable of activities to be carried out under the transition towards the holding of elections, in accordance with the decisions of the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held on 16th September 2021.
  4. The Authority decides to appoint H.E. Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas as Special Envoy to Guinea with a view to strengthening dialogue with the Transitional authorities towards a successful and short transition process.

B. On the political transition in the Republic of Mali:

  1. The Authority remains concerned about the deterioration of the security situation in Mali, as a result of the heightened political uncertainties in the country.
  2. It calls on the Transition Authorities to intensify their efforts to improve the security situation, especially by ensuring effective state presence in the affected areas.
  3. In this context, the Authority calls on the neighbouring countries to step up security presence along their borders with Mali and instructs the ECOWAS Commission to deepen the ongoing discussions with the African Union Commission with a view to enhancing the security situation in the Sahel.
  4. Furthermore, the Authority calls for a more robust and offensive mandate and enhance the operational capacity of MINUSMA to deal with terrorism challenges in Mali. ECOWAS will accordingly request the United Nations Security Council to make the necessary amendments to the mandate of MINUSMA.
  5. On the political front, the Chair of ECOWAS informed the Authority of the official notification by the transition authorities of their inability to meet the transition deadline of February 2022.
  6. The Authority highly deplores the lack of progress made in the preparations for the elections, including the absence of a detailed timetable of activities for the conduct of elections on the agreed dates.
  7. The Authority reiterates the need to adhere to the transition timetable in respect of the elections scheduled for 27th February 2022 and calls on the Transition Authorities to act accordingly to ensure an expeditious return to constitutional order.
  8. Accordingly, the Authority calls on the International Community to take the necessary measures to ensure that the transition authorities respect their commitment to an expeditious return to constitutional order.
  9. The Authority condemns the expulsion of the ECOWAS Permanent Representative to Mali in this critical context and calls on the transition authorities to uphold the spirit of dialogue and collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission to ensure a successful transition.

The situation in Mali and Guinea will be reviewed at the Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on the 12th of December 2021.

Recall that Colonel Mamady Doumbouya became Guinea’s interim president after leading a coup against 83-year-old President Alpha Condé on 5th September.

41-year-old Doumbouya was formerly President Condé chief of security as head of the country’s Special Forces and he blames the coup on the rampant corruption, disregard for human rights and economic mismanagement under the Condé administration. Condé is still being detained and the African Union and ECOWAS have suspended Guinea’s membership.

Although Doumbouya says he will return the country to democratic civilian rule, he has not specified how long the transition would be.

Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goïta

Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goïta, who is 37 years old and Africa’s youngest leader, came to power by staging a coup in May 2021.

Goita removed President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on May 24 and he was sworn in as President in June. He had staged a similar coup 9 months earlier. Goita served as Mali’s vice president under the transitional government, formed in September last year, which pledged to reform the constitution by October and hold elections in February next year.

He has promised to conduct the elections as scheduled by the previous government, which was also installed after a coup led by Goita, which toppled elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

As ECOWAS and the African Union blow hot and cold, it does not look like the young guns in Guinea and Mali are listening because all the noise may sound like the barking of a toothless bulldog. The young leaders have learnt a thing or two from their elders in their neighbouring countries, who though claim to have come to power through democratic processes, cannot really prove that they did not use strong arms, police and military powers to gain power and stay there.


Epa Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist, writes on, and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.

One Comment on “Ecowas Sanctions On Guinea & Mali For Military Take-Overs: How Feasible?”

  1. Bullet point:

    “The young leaders have learnt a thing or two from their elders in their neighbouring countries, who though claim to have come to power through democratic processes, cannot really prove that they did not use strong arms, police and military powers to gain power and stay there”.

    Case in point:

    The just concluded Anambra Election

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