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West African leaders meet to discuss 'recalcitrant' coup-hit states

West African leaders meet to discuss 'recalcitrant' coup-hit states
By Reuters
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ACCRA - West African leaders gathered in Ghana on Friday to discuss the situation in "recalcitrant" states Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, which have all had military takeovers in the last 18 months, regional bloc chairman Nana Akufo-Addo said.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which met in Accra, has already condemned all the coups and been trying to push the military juntas to hand back power to civilians.

No handover date has been agreed in Guinea - or in Mali where the officers who first seized power in 2020 have suggested they could keep ruling until at least 2025.

ECOWAS is also still negotiating with the junta in Burkina Faso, which was rocked by West Africa's fourth coup in 18 months in January after two in Mali and one in Guinea.

Officers there have said they will hold on to power for three years. ECOWAS has not directly commented on this timeline, but urged a speedy return to constitutional order.

ECOWAS chair and Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo said before Friday's meeting that it was "time to take stock of where we are with our three recalcitrant member states".

Discussions kicked off behind closed after his opening remarks and are expected to last all afternoon.

None of the three junta leaders were at the opening session, according to a Reuters reporter.

Mali's interim leader Assimi Goita had previously said he would only attend virtually.

The bloc has already imposed economic sanctions on Guinea and on Mali for dragging their feet on restoring constitutional rule.

Sanctions in Mali, where the junta failed to hold promised elections in February, have severed the country's access to regional financial markets, caused job losses and contributed to its default on about $180 million in debt payments.

A top regional court ordered the suspension on Thursday of another set of sanctions imposed by the West African Economic and Monetary Union in conjunction with ECOWAS.

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