Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso push for return to AU in spite of coups

Friday February 17 2023
A session of the 35th AU summit in Ethiopia

A session of the 35th AU summit. Suspended countries Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso are lobbying to be re-admitted to the African Union. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP


Suspended countries Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso are lobbying to be re-admitted to the African Union, more than a year after coups plagued the West African region.

In a series of meetings in Addis Ababa, the countries’ foreign ministers met and lobbied with members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the organ that normally imposes sanctions on member states for illegal changes in government.

All the three countries, as well as Sudan, remain suspended for coups in their countries, meaning they can neither take part in activities of the AU nor have a vote on decisions. But the ministers travelled to Addis Ababa just as the AU Executive Council, composed of foreign ministers, gathered to begin the annual African Union Assembly which will culminate in a summit on Saturday and Sunday by the heads of state and government.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop met with Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra in Addis Ababa.

Mali peace process

Algeria is the AU’s chair of the monitoring committee of implementation of the Malian peace deal. A dispatch released from Algiers said Diop is seeking for removal of “obstacles” to the peace process in Mali.


Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamt, told The EastAfrican Mr Faki had met the three ministers on Thursday on the side-lines of the executive council meeting. But she said the ultimate decision will rest with the Peace and Security Council.

“The organ (of the African Union) responsible for security matters on the continent is the AU Peace and Security Council,” she said.

Bankole Adeoye, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said he had had an “in-depth discussion” with the ministers but did not say whether the matter for the three will be on the table when the Peace and Security Council meets on Friday ahead of the summit.

Transitional roadmaps

“I reiterated the AU’s support for inclusive political transitions and encouraged strict adherence to set transitional roadmaps,” he said.

The Peace and Security Council is this month chaired by South Africa and includes 14 other member states including Cameroon, Djibouti, Morocco, Namibia and Nigeria. It also includes Burundi, Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

If it discusses the issue, Sudan may also fall into the programme of countries now suspended for more than a year since coups. According to an AU policy on governance and democracy, illegal changes in government often attract prompt suspensions until the countries in question re-introduce a plan to resume civilian-led governments. All the three countries were accused of failing to provide adequate timelines since 2021.

In West Africa, where Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso fall, regional bloc Ecowas imposed local sanctions including a trade ban. Ecowas has since adjusted sanctions but retained pressure on the countries to resume civilian-led governance.

Seen positive steps

Mr Faki had told the executive council’s opening session that he had seen positive steps in the coup countries and called for the Au to encourage the reforms.

“My recent visits to Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan give me hope for encouraging developments in these three countries where non-constitutional changes have taken place,” Faki said in Addis Ababa.

“However, they all deserve a real outpouring of African and international solidarity. I hope that your council will echo such a call for solidarity.

Earlier on Tuesday, Faki and several AU officials travelled to Sudan where they said they were satisfied with an ongoing dialogue to re-establish a transitional government.

“In this regard, the chairperson expresses the hope that current developments will lead to the finalisation of a consensual political agreement towards the formation of a civilian-led government, and the eventual organisation, within a reasonable timetable of credible elections,” a statement from his office said on Tuesday.