W. African regional bloc suspends Burkina Faso after coup

FILE - People take to the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 25, 2022 to rally in support of the new military junta that ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seized control of the country. Officials from the European Union and five countries of the north African Sahel region are meeting as the bloc readies to impose sanctions on Mali and as political turmoil roils Burkina Faso. The meeting Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022 brings together EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and foreign ministers from Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (AP Photo/Sophie Garcia, file)
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Associated Press

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — West African neighbor states on Friday suspended Burkina Faso in the aftermath of this week’s coup, making it the third nation in the regional bloc to be punished for a military takeover in only 18 months, officials said.

The announcement from the bloc known as ECOWAS came days after more than a dozen mutinous soldiers went on state television in Burkina Faso to announce their military takeover of the country — that’s under siege from Islamic extremist attacks.

ECOWAS had suspended neighboring 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.

West African leaders met virtually Friday to discuss the Burkina Faso coup, and a delegation was expected to travel to 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.”

“The rest of the world is looking up to us to be firm on this matter,” he said.

ECOWAS has faced criticism for its handling of the coups, particularly in Mali where mediators negotiated with the junta on the 18-month deadline for holding democratic elections. Mali’s coup leader has said that won’t be met, citing security conditions, and has announced a vote four years from now instead.