ECOWAS summit scheduled for December 10 in Abuja

The next summit of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), in crisis after a series of recent military coups, will take place on December 10 in Abuja, the Côte d’Ivoire presidency announced on Thursday.

“The next ordinary summit” of Ecowas “will take place on December 10 in Abuja”, the Nigerian capital, according to a press release issued by the presidency following a meeting in Abidjan on Wednesday between Ivorian head of state Alassane Ouattara and the president of the regional organization’s commission, Omar Alieu Touray.

The last summit took place at the beginning of August, and was entirely devoted to the situation in Niger, following the military coup of July 26 that overthrew the elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, who has since been sequestered in his residence in Niamey.

The Heads of State had threatened military intervention to restore President Bazoum to office, and imposed heavy economic and financial sanctions on Niger, ruled by a military regime led by General Abdourahamane Tiani.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve given up the military option. We have suspended it, while waiting for the sanctions to produce results”, said Abdel-Fatau Musah, Ecowas Commissioner for Political Affairs, in an interview published Thursday on the Jeune Afrique website.

Regarding the three-year transition period put forward by General Tiani before a return to constitutional order, he felt that “many things are negotiable, but under no circumstances will we accept a three-year transition”.

“In any case, dialogue has broken down for the time being. We have tried to meet (the Niger leaders) and talk to them. They refuse,” he added.

Of the fifteen member countries of Ecowas, four have been ruled since 2020 by military leaders following coups d’état: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea. All have since been suspended from the organization, and will therefore not be represented at the Abuja summit.

The first three countries, plagued by jihadist violence, have formed an Alliance of Sahel States (AES).

An attempted coup in Sierra Leone, another Ecowas member, killed 21 people on Sunday, according to senior officials in that country.