ECOWAS leaders are meeting in Accra for the 6th extraordinary session of the authority of Heads of State and government summit. High on the agenda is the political situation in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, three countries under military rule within the 15-nation regional bloc.
The Accra summit is expected to either modify or approve transition timetables set by the military leaders, who staged coup d’etats in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. The three countries have been suspended from ECOWAS, with Mali under the severest sanctions, including financial squeeze, travel bans and border blockade.
The leader of the Malian military junta, Col Assimi Goita has proposed a 24-month programme after failing to stick to the February 2021 transition to civilian rule on a previous 18-month timeline.
On the other hand, the Guinean leader, Col Mamady Doumbouya has indicated a 36-month transition period. Also the Burkina Faso, military leader, Lt.-Col Paul-Henri Damiba has proposed 36 months’ transition to return the country to civilian rule.
The ECOWAS Accra summit comes on the heels of Friday’s meeting in Russia between President Vladimir Putin and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, the African Union Chair, on the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the continent.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is now 100 days’, and the endless punitive sanctions against Moscow by the US and its EU allies, have unleashed crippling economic hardships on the World, from high oil and gas and energy prices to worsening food shortages.
Russia and Ukraine account for between 40% and 60% of wheat supply to some African countries including Senegal. But Ukrainian exports cannot go through Russia occupied territories, and Moscow insists that Western sanctions must be lifted first.
Sall reportedly raised the food question with Putin.
Africa’s economic and political problems, already compounded by the global Covid-19 health pandemic can only get worse with the food crisis.
Otherwise, Africa is blessed with abundant resources, including vast arable land for agriculture. It should be self-sufficient and exporting food instead of depending on imports from abroad.