Abidjan – The ruling juntas in Burkina Faso and Guinea want more time to present a schedule for restoring civilian rule, West Africa’s regional bloc said on Wednesday, two days after a deadline expired.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Guinea and Burkina Faso after coups in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
In March, it demanded the juntas put forward “acceptable” timetables for returning to civilian rule, or otherwise face sanctions. The deadline for this was on Monday.
“Burkina Faso wished to have additional time in relation to the deadline of April 25 in order to continue consultations on various issues,” ECOWAS said in a statement.
“Guinea presented recent developments concerning the transition process and wanted to have more time… to enable consultations to continue,” it said.
ECOWAS said it would send delegations to both countries, which would be followed by a summit of the bloc. It gave no dates.
Burkina Faso on Monday pushed back against ECOWAS’ demands to reduce its declared plans for a three-year timetable.
It said the national priority was combating a jihadist insurgency that has claimed some 2,000 lives and forced around 1.8 million to flee their homes.
Guinea’s government spokesperson Ousmane Gaoual Diallo insisted Monday the government did “not act under the constraints or the diktat of anyone”.
Asked whether Guinea would pull out of ECOWAS, he said, “Nothing is being ruled out.”
Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, a former special forces commander who heads the ruling junta, ousted Guinean president Alpha Conde in September 2021.
Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in Burkina from then president Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January.
ECOWAS also hit Guinea with tough economic sanctions.
Burkina has so far escaped such measures after envoys returned from Ouagadougou with a positive report about the junta’s response following the coup.
The regional bloc has also suspended and sanctioned a third country, Mali, where two coups have taken place since August 2020.