West African heads of state on Tuesday sought to end a tense stand-off between coup leaders and the army in Burkina Faso, announcing a new peace mission to the troubled nation and a call for non-violence.
Members states of the ECOWAS regional bloc met in closed-door talks in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to discuss a 12-point plan mooted last weekend by the body’s current president, Macky Sall of Senegal.
“They have decided to dispatch (Wednesday) a delegation of heads of state to go to Ouagadougou to re-establish Michel Kafando in his function as president of the transition of Burkina Faso,” ECOWAS commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told AFP.
The trip aimed to “initiate a political dialogue among all stakeholders with a view to finding concessional solutions” to the peace plan proposed by Sall and his Benin counterpart Thomas Boni Yayi.
The delegation will come from Nigeria, Niger, Togo, Ghana, Benin and Senegal, Ouedraogo said, reading a final communique from the meeting.
Tensions have mounted in Burkina Faso between members of the presidential guard loyal to former president Blaise Compaore, toppled in a popular uprising in October last year, and the army.
Guards last week seized Kafando, who was appointed interim president in the run-up to general elections scheduled for October 11, with Prime Minister Isaac Zida. Both were later released.
Ouedraogo, a former Burkinabe prime minister before becoming ECOWAS commission president, said the heads of state “called on the presidential guards to disarm and demanded the other unit of the army not to use force to avoid loss of human lives.
“They have also called on all the stakeholders to exercise patience and refrain from anything that can derail the national consensus.”
Military and humanitarian observers from member states would be sent to Burkina Faso “to monitor respect for human rights”, Ouedraogo told AFP.
The leaders also said the African Union and international community should lift sanctions slapped on Burkina Faso “in view of the fact they have proposed the re-instalment of the transitional government”.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is following with “great concern” the situation in Burkina Faso, and has called upon the country’s defence and security forces to avoid at all costs an escalation of violence and to ensure the respect for physical security and human rights of all Burkinabé citizens.
Mr. Ban also reiterated his call for “a swift resumption of the transition process to enable Burkina Faso’s return to constitutional order with the holding of presidential and legislative elections in accordance with the Constitution and the Transitional Charter,” Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters today during the regular briefing at UN Headquarters.
Meanwhile, as the Secretary-General follows the ongoing regional mediation efforts towards the resolution of the crisis, his Special Representative for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is coordinating with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and other international partners to support and safeguard the transition in the country.