Informal consultation on countries in political transition

Informal consultation on countries in political transition

Date | 20 December 2023

Tomorrow (21 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will hold an informal consultation with the representatives of Member States currently undergoing political transitions, namely Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso.

This marks the second instance of the PSC deploying the format of informal consultation pursuant to article 8(11) of the PSC Protocol, Rule 16 of its Rules of Procedure, and article 25(3) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG). The informal consultation affords the PSC the opportunity for direct engagement with Member States suspended from AU activities due to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG) for discussing the transition and the process towards restoration of constitutional order and civilian rule. The first such consultation was held on 26 April of this year, during which the PSC interacted with representatives of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan. It is noteworthy that this consultation did not result in a formal outcome document. Tomorrow’s informal engagement is expected to take stock of the progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of key transition activities in the three countries, and exchange on how to enhance the progress in the transitional process.

On Guinea

PSC’s last engagement on Guinea was during the informal consultation in April. Subsequently, PSC had planned to undertake a field mission to Guinea in August and receive an updated briefing on the political transitions in Guinea and Mali in September, as outlined in its program of work. However, neither the field mission nor the updated briefing session occurred as originally planned.

In October 2022, ECOWAS and Guinea’s transition authorities agreed on a two-year transition period after intense negotiations, with the election expected to take place at the end of next year. PSC, at its 1116th session, welcomed the agreement reached on the timeline, urging all stakeholders for its adoption and support to ensure a sustained and comprehensive return to constitutional order. The transition timeline covers ten priority areas, including the development of a new constitution, a referendum on the new constitution, establishment of an election management body, and organization of local, legislative, and presidential elections. In late April, the transition authorities appealed to the international community for assistance in mobilizing some 6 trillion Guinean francs ($600 million) for the implementation of the transition plan.

One of the issues likely to receive attention during the consultation is progress towards the drafting of the constitution. The National Transitional Council initiated a series of constitutional consultations, inviting key stakeholders to engage in discussions on the guiding principles of the constitution and offer recommendations. Despite the participation of certain stakeholders who provided their inputs, the large opposition and civil society coalition known as Forces Vives de Guinée (FVG) boycotted the initiative. Sources indicate that the transitional legislature was expected to consider and adopt the draft constitution in June, with a subsequent referendum on the draft constitution scheduled for this December. The June deadline has already been missed, and it is also unlikely that the referendum will take place according to the original plan.

Guinea’s transitional authorities are currently experiencing strained relations both internally with opposition parties and externally with the regional bloc ECOWAS, posing a significant challenge to the transition process. The fluid security situation also remains a cause for concern as the prison break staged in early November in the capital Conakry demonstrates. Top ex-military officials, who have been on trial for the 2009 massacre of civilians, were reportedly freed by armed men from a central prison in the capital. Three of them, including the former military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, were recaptured, while former minister of Presidential Security Colonel Claude Pivi remains fugitive. The incident reportedly witnessed a fighting between Special Forces, formerly led by interim President Col. Mamady Doumbouya, and Autonomous Battalion of Airborne Troops, of which Colonel Pivi was once a member. This coupled with preceding events in April and May, during which Col. Doumbouya dismissed key figures, including the armed forces chief of staff and the head of military intelligence, signals internal discord within the transition authorities.

On Burkina Faso

The last time PSC discussed the situation in Burkina Faso was at its 1166th session on 3 August, while considering the report of the field mission to the country conducted from 22 to 27 July 2023. In the communiqué adopted during that session, PSC urged the’ transitional authority to practically demonstrate its commitment and ensure that elections are successfully organized within the stipulated timelines.’ The interim President, Captain Ibrahim Traore, who assumed power following the military coup on September 30, 2022, agreed to adhere to the initially agreed-upon transition timeline of 24 months, with the election expected to take place in July 2024. While there have been encouraging developments—including the establishment of a Transition Roadmap, an electoral calendar, and the Independent National Electoral Commission—convening the elections on the scheduled timeline of 24 July 2024 remains doubtful, mainly due to the prevailing security challenges. The PSC, during its recent field mission, observed that several stakeholders in Burkina Faso expressed uncertainties regarding the likelihood of the election taking place in July. Meanwhile, in September, interim President Traore explicitly stated on state TV that elections are ‘not priority’ compared to security. He went on to say that ‘there won’t be an election that is only concentrated in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso and other nearby towns’, alluding to cities less impacted by terrorist attacks.

Indeed, the worsening security situation in Burkina Faso will remain a significant challenge to the organization of elections. Despite government claims of significant security gains, with purported control over 65% to 70% of the territory, Burkina Faso has witnessed a concerning surge in terrorist attacks throughout the period from January to September 2023, according to the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on counter-terrorism and related issues. Currently, Burkina Faso ranks second only to Afghanistan in bearing the brunt of terrorism globally, making the country ‘the epicenter of terrorism and violent extremism’ in the continent. On the other hand, the ban on the public demonstrations and political activities, which has been in place since the issuance of communiqué No. 3 of 30 September 2022, remains intact. Political parties are voicing their concerns over the ongoing restriction and limited space for their participation in the management of the transition process. Against this backdrop, PSC’s 1166th session urged Burkinabé transitional authorities to lift such ban, an important request worth following-up in tomorrow’s consultation.

The other key issue likely to receive attention in tomorrow’s consultation is the operationalization of the monitoring mechanism of the transition, which remains an important aspect of accompanying the transitional process. A year ago, ECOWAS and Burkina Faso signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism for the 24 months transition—a development welcomed during the 62nd Ordinary Session of ECOWAS on 04 December 2022. Nevertheless, PSC’s field mission report highlights the challenges to operationalize the mechanism, including difficulties faced by the ECOWAS Mediator in conducting visits to the country. The announcement of the formation of a regional alliance between Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali is not received favorably in the region. In the communiqué adopted during its latest summit on 10 December, ECOWAS expressed its rejection of ‘all forms of alliances that seek to divide the region and promote foreign interest in the region.’ It is also recalled that the PSC, at its 1076th session, decided to establish a Transition Support Group in Burkina Faso (TSG-BF), in collaboration with ECOWAS and the UN, with the aim to mobilize the necessary resources to address security, development and human challenges.

On Mali

Mali was last discussed by the PSC during the first informal consultation it held with countries undergoing political transition in April this year. One key development since this informal consultation has been the successful conduct of Mali’s national referendum in June which approved amendment of the constitution with, according to the national electoral authority, 97% votes in favor. While the referendum in itself has by and large been regarded as a test to the transition authorities’ commitment to a democratic process, it has not been free of contentions. Although proponents of the newly amended constitution are hopeful it would strengthen fragile political institutions, opponents criticize the document for bestowing excessive power to the president.

While welcoming the conduct of the referendum and commending the transition authorities for deploying the necessary efforts towards its successful completion, ECOWAS, at its 64th Ordinary Session held on 10 December, expressed concern over the reluctance of Malian transition authorities to cooperate with ECOWAS.

In late September, Mali’s transition authorities announced that the presidential elections that were set to take place in February 2024 will be slightly delayed due to technical reason including the pending review of electoral lists. Further to the absence of any indication of a projected date for the postponed presidential elections to be conducted, the authorities have also decided not to hold legislative elections which were scheduled for end of 2023, opting instead to exclusively have presidential elections. This partial implementation of the transitional processes may not be without consequences for full return to constitutional and civilian rule.

On the security track, Mali continues to confront intense insurgencies with increasing tensions having been noted in the northern region over the past few months. Reports have indicated that in recent months, Al Qaeda’s Sahelian affiliate has increased its attacks in northern Mali, to exploit the security vacuum already being created due to the ongoing withdrawal of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). As a result of such insecurity, humanitarian access to several parts of Mali’s northern region is now limited, frustrating the already dire humanitarian situation. The heightened tensions and armed presence in the region is also impeding the timely and orderly departure of withdrawing MINUSMA troops and personnel. While reaffirming its plans to stick to the deadline of 31 December 2023 to complete withdrawal of MINUSMA as per Mali’s request, the UN has expressed concern in mid-October, over the challenges being faced in the movement of logistics convoys.

No formal outcome document is expected from tomorrow’s consultation. The consultation may highlight the importance of institutionalizing the practice of informal consultation with countries undergoing political transitions, aiming to expedite their return to constitutional order. In addition to the informal consultation, it may also emphasize the need to operationalize monitoring and evaluation mechanism to effectively track the implementation of transition plans in countries under political transition. In this context, PSC may follow-up on its previous decisions, including the decision to establish a Monitoring Mechanism on Transition in Guinea (MMTG) during its 1064th session. While recognizing the complex and multi-dimensional challenges facing these countries, the consultation may emphasize the significance of adhering to the agreed transition timelines and fostering close collaboration for the effective implementation of key transition activities. Also of significance in respect to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger is how to support their efforts in the fight against terrorism and consolidating security in these countries. It may also welcome the recent decision of ECOWAS, during its 64th ordinary session held on 10 December 2023, which directed its Member States to ‘exempt the Transition Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of the Member States in Transition from the travel ban and other targeted individual sanctions imposed on the three Member States’ as important step for mending very strained relations with these countries.


Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Date | 26 April 2023

Tomorrow (26 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an informal consultation with representatives of member states undergoing political transitions (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan). The consultation mainly aims to serve as an opportunity for direct engagement between the PSC and representatives of member states suspended from the activities of the AU in relation to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG).

The meeting is being convened on the basis of Article 8(11) of the PSC Protocol and Rule 16 of the PSC Rules of Procedure which envisage informal consultations of the PSC ‘with parties concerned by or interested in a conflict or a situation under its consideration’. As Amani Africa’s Handbook on the AUPSC discusses, although a format yet to be properly operationalised, PSC’s informal consultation – along with closed and open sessions – forms one of the three types of meetings stipulated under the provisions of Article 8, sub-articles 9 to 11 of the PSC Protocol. Despite the presence of the mechanism, tomorrow’s consultation forms the first time for the PSC to explore this meeting format as a way to overcome the limitation from the other two forms of PSC meetings to engage with member states suspended from the activities of the AU.

The immediate background that precipitated the activation of this format of PSC’s meeting from its long dormancy is traced back to the challenges for effective PSC engagement in countries facing complex transitions induced by military seizure of power. At the 14th Retreat on the Working Methods of the PSC held in November 2022, one of the issues which formed part of the discussions was PSC’s interface with AU member states that are suspend from the activities of the union. Highlighting the relevant provision of the PSC Protocol to enable informal consultations with such member states – Article 8(11) – the conclusions of the 14th Retreat underscored how the PSC may utilise such consultations to engage with AU member states suspended for UCG, to gather first-hand information on the situation on the ground and to work towards finding durable solution.

Additionally, during the AU summit in February, the ministers of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali were present for holding side meetings, although they were not allowed entry into the formal meetings of the summit. One of the issues that they highlighted in their engagement and presence during the summit without access to and presence in the sessions of the Executive Council and AU Assembly sessions was the unfairness of their exclusion while the AU did not suspend a neighbouring country, Chad, where similar military seizure of power took place, and allowed its full participation despite continuing military transitional rule.

It was also in this context that the concrete idea for the convening of the informal consultation was conceived. This emerged during one of the engagements of these ministers. This engagement involved a meeting with the minister of foreign affairs of Tunisia. After the meeting, Tunisia’s foreign minister agreed to explore the convening of an informal consultation that gives the opportunity for the PSC to have direct engagement and hear first-hand from the parties. According to the information Amani Africa received in the consultation on the program of work for April under the Tunisia’s chairship, the informal consultation may see the participation of the three countries at the level of ministers. At the time the program was developed and adopted, in addition to the three West African countries suspended for UCG, Sudan was also anticipated to participate. It is to be seen if Sudan will participate in the light of its recent descent to the ongoing deadly fighting.

The suspension of member states from AU’s activities at the occurrence of UCG is not an end by itself, but rather a means to the desired end result of ensuring the restoration of constitutional order in the concerned member state. The 2000 Lomé Declaration on UCG is in fact clear on the importance of sustained engagement of the AU with the perpetrators of a coup in order to exert the necessary pressure to ascertain a speedy return to constitutional order. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) also clarifies under Article 25(3) that notwithstanding the suspension of a given member state, the AU ‘shall maintain diplomatic contacts and take any initiatives to restore democracy’ in that member state. In light of these guiding norms therefore, it is important to conceptualise suspension as a tool to register displeasure over the breach of agreed community rules and as a lever to use diplomatic efforts in member states affected by UCG for the initiation and implementation of roadmap for relevant reforms that facilitate both the return to constitutional order and its sustainability by preventing recurrence of UCG through addressing the conditions for its occurrence.

Upon suspension from the AU, representatives of member states are not invited to address the PSC as concerned country when the PSC convenes a meeting on their country situation. At the very best, those countries have to present their case by proxy either through members of the PSC or if their view is canvased as part of the report, briefing or statement that the AU Commission presents to the PSC. As a result, with the exception of the only time the PSC has been able to conduct a field visit to one of these member states (the PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali conducted in July 2021 following the coup of May 2021), its direct interface with authorities in charge of the transition processes has been lacking. After the October 2021 military power grab experienced in Sudan, the PSC had also planned to conduct a similar evaluation mission to engage Sudanese actors but the visit could not be carried out as intended. There have also been no PSC missions to the other two member states suspended for UCG, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This is seen by PSC members as having the effect of limiting both PSC’s understanding of perspectives of the de facto authorities and the full scope of the issues and dynamics at play as well as its diplomatic leverage over the authorities. Tomorrow’s informal consultation is accordingly designed to address these perceived challenges around the direct engagement between the PSC and the de facto authorities of countries suspended on account of UCG.

Another critical area the informal consultation could contribute to is in responding to concerns that have been raised from various stakeholders, regarding inconsistencies observed in the way the AU has responded to UCG that occurred in the course of 2021 and 2022. After the consecutive coups that took place in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan in 2021 (Burkina Faso’s coming in 2022), only Chad has remained immune from suspension in line with Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol. Despite Chad’s specific circumstances which led to the PSC’s decision to refrain from imposing immediate suspension, not only has this decision brought up questions around the consistent application of the AU principles and norms banning UCG, it has also raised concern over the perceived differential treatment accorded to Chad – whose representatives had direct access to the PSC during its sessions on the situation in Chad while the other countries were restricted from the same privilege, having been suspended. Although it may not respond to the complex issues that arise from these experiences, the envisaged informal consultation could in part address some of the concerns that have been raised in this regard.

While appreciating the advantages of an informal consultation of the PSC with member states suspended from the AU, it is also important to maintain the established practice through which the PSC keeps track of the status of developments in countries in political transitions. Although it has not had direct exchanges with suspended member states, the PSC constantly maintains engagement on the developments in these countries through the AU Commission and its Chairperson, though the PSC has not been receiving updates as regularly as the period as stipulated in PSC decisions. Indeed, even with PSC’s direct engagement the best way to facilitate effective political transition for restoring constitutional order is through deploying diplomatic initiative (through a special envoy or high-representative or transition support mechanism and through the provision of technical support to transition authorities in required specific transitional tasks) as envisaged the Lomé Declaration and Article 25(3) of ACDEG. The role of the PSC would largely be to mandate the establishment or launching of such diplomatic initiative, the accompanying and monitoring of such initiative, and the review of its decision on suspension based on assessment of progress made.

No formal outcome document is expected from tomorrow’s informal consultation. The consultation is expected to emphasise the importance of AU norms on democracy, good governance and constitutionalism, not only to avert the occurrence of coups, but also to ensure sustained peace, security and stability in Africa. It may commend member states currently undergoing political transitions for their ongoing efforts to restore constitutional order in their respective territories and urge them to continue abiding by the agreed terms in their transition charters and to fully handover authority to democratically elected civilian governments by the envisaged timelines. Highlighting the importance of occasional informal consultations to enable direct interaction between the PSC and member states suspended from the AU, it may stress the need for maintaining the established method of engagement through the auspices of the AU Commission, particularly the Chairperson.


Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Date | 26 April 2023

Tomorrow (26 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an informal consultation with representatives of member states undergoing political transitions (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan). The consultation mainly aims to serve as an opportunity for direct engagement between the PSC and representatives of member states suspended from the activities of the AU in relation to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG).

The meeting is being convened on the basis of Article 8(11) of the PSC Protocol and Rule 16 of the PSC Rules of Procedure which envisage informal consultations of the PSC ‘with parties concerned by or interested in a conflict or a situation under its consideration’. As Amani Africa’s Handbook on the AUPSC discusses, although a format yet to be properly operationalised, PSC’s informal consultation – along with closed and open sessions – forms one of the three types of meetings stipulated under the provisions of Article 8, sub-articles 9 to 11 of the PSC Protocol. Despite the presence of the mechanism, tomorrow’s consultation forms the first time for the PSC to explore this meeting format as a way to overcome the limitation from the other two forms of PSC meetings to engage with member states suspended from the activities of the AU.

The immediate background that precipitated the activation of this format of PSC’s meeting from its long dormancy is traced back to the challenges for effective PSC engagement in countries facing complex transitions induced by military seizure of power. At the 14th Retreat on the Working Methods of the PSC held in November 2022, one of the issues which formed part of the discussions was PSC’s interface with AU member states that are suspend from the activities of the union. Highlighting the relevant provision of the PSC Protocol to enable informal consultations with such member states – Article 8(11) – the conclusions of the 14th Retreat underscored how the PSC may utilise such consultations to engage with AU member states suspended for UCG, to gather first-hand information on the situation on the ground and to work towards finding durable solution.

Additionally, during the AU summit in February, the ministers of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali were present for holding side meetings, although they were not allowed entry into the formal meetings of the summit. One of the issues that they highlighted in their engagement and presence during the summit without access to and presence in the sessions of the Executive Council and AU Assembly sessions was the unfairness of their exclusion while the AU did not suspend a neighbouring country, Chad, where similar military seizure of power took place, and allowed its full participation despite continuing military transitional rule.

It was also in this context that the concrete idea for the convening of the informal consultation was conceived. This emerged during one of the engagements of these ministers. This engagement involved a meeting with the minister of foreign affairs of Tunisia. After the meeting, Tunisia’s foreign minister agreed to explore the convening of an informal consultation that gives the opportunity for the PSC to have direct engagement and hear first-hand from the parties. According to the information Amani Africa received in the consultation on the program of work for April under the Tunisia’s chairship, the informal consultation may see the participation of the three countries at the level of ministers. At the time the program was developed and adopted, in addition to the three West African countries suspended for UCG, Sudan was also anticipated to participate. It is to be seen if Sudan will participate in the light of its recent descent to the ongoing deadly fighting.

The suspension of member states from AU’s activities at the occurrence of UCG is not an end by itself, but rather a means to the desired end result of ensuring the restoration of constitutional order in the concerned member state. The 2000 Lomé Declaration on UCG is in fact clear on the importance of sustained engagement of the AU with the perpetrators of a coup in order to exert the necessary pressure to ascertain a speedy return to constitutional order. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) also clarifies under Article 25(3) that notwithstanding the suspension of a given member state, the AU ‘shall maintain diplomatic contacts and take any initiatives to restore democracy’ in that member state. In light of these guiding norms therefore, it is important to conceptualise suspension as a tool to register displeasure over the breach of agreed community rules and as a lever to use diplomatic efforts in member states affected by UCG for the initiation and implementation of roadmap for relevant reforms that facilitate both the return to constitutional order and its sustainability by preventing recurrence of UCG through addressing the conditions for its occurrence.

Upon suspension from the AU, representatives of member states are not invited to address the PSC as concerned country when the PSC convenes a meeting on their country situation. At the very best, those countries have to present their case by proxy either through members of the PSC or if their view is canvased as part of the report, briefing or statement that the AU Commission presents to the PSC. As a result, with the exception of the only time the PSC has been able to conduct a field visit to one of these member states (the PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali conducted in July 2021 following the coup of May 2021), its direct interface with authorities in charge of the transition processes has been lacking. After the October 2021 military power grab experienced in Sudan, the PSC had also planned to conduct a similar evaluation mission to engage Sudanese actors but the visit could not be carried out as intended. There have also been no PSC missions to the other two member states suspended for UCG, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This is seen by PSC members as having the effect of limiting both PSC’s understanding of perspectives of the de facto authorities and the full scope of the issues and dynamics at play as well as its diplomatic leverage over the authorities. Tomorrow’s informal consultation is accordingly designed to address these perceived challenges around the direct engagement between the PSC and the de facto authorities of countries suspended on account of UCG.

Another critical area the informal consultation could contribute to is in responding to concerns that have been raised from various stakeholders, regarding inconsistencies observed in the way the AU has responded to UCG that occurred in the course of 2021 and 2022. After the consecutive coups that took place in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan in 2021 (Burkina Faso’s coming in 2022), only Chad has remained immune from suspension in line with Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol. Despite Chad’s specific circumstances which led to the PSC’s decision to refrain from imposing immediate suspension, not only has this decision brought up questions around the consistent application of the AU principles and norms banning UCG, it has also raised concern over the perceived differential treatment accorded to Chad – whose representatives had direct access to the PSC during its sessions on the situation in Chad while the other countries were restricted from the same privilege, having been suspended. Although it may not respond to the complex issues that arise from these experiences, the envisaged informal consultation could in part address some of the concerns that have been raised in this regard.

While appreciating the advantages of an informal consultation of the PSC with member states suspended from the AU, it is also important to maintain the established practice through which the PSC keeps track of the status of developments in countries in political transitions. Although it has not had direct exchanges with suspended member states, the PSC constantly maintains engagement on the developments in these countries through the AU Commission and its Chairperson, though the PSC has not been receiving updates as regularly as the period as stipulated in PSC decisions. Indeed, even with PSC’s direct engagement the best way to facilitate effective political transition for restoring constitutional order is through deploying diplomatic initiative (through a special envoy or high-representative or transition support mechanism and through the provision of technical support to transition authorities in required specific transitional tasks) as envisaged the Lomé Declaration and Article 25(3) of ACDEG. The role of the PSC would largely be to mandate the establishment or launching of such diplomatic initiative, the accompanying and monitoring of such initiative, and the review of its decision on suspension based on assessment of progress made.

No formal outcome document is expected from tomorrow’s informal consultation. The consultation is expected to emphasise the importance of AU norms on democracy, good governance and constitutionalism, not only to avert the occurrence of coups, but also to ensure sustained peace, security and stability in Africa. It may commend member states currently undergoing political transitions for their ongoing efforts to restore constitutional order in their respective territories and urge them to continue abiding by the agreed terms in their transition charters and to fully handover authority to democratically elected civilian governments by the envisaged timelines. Highlighting the importance of occasional informal consultations to enable direct interaction between the PSC and member states suspended from the AU, it may stress the need for maintaining the established method of engagement through the auspices of the AU Commission, particularly the Chairperson.


Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Date | 26 April 2023

Tomorrow (26 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an informal consultation with representatives of member states undergoing political transitions (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan). The consultation mainly aims to serve as an opportunity for direct engagement between the PSC and representatives of member states suspended from the activities of the AU in relation to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG).

The meeting is being convened on the basis of Article 8(11) of the PSC Protocol and Rule 16 of the PSC Rules of Procedure which envisage informal consultations of the PSC ‘with parties concerned by or interested in a conflict or a situation under its consideration’. As Amani Africa’s Handbook on the AUPSC discusses, although a format yet to be properly operationalised, PSC’s informal consultation – along with closed and open sessions – forms one of the three types of meetings stipulated under the provisions of Article 8, sub-articles 9 to 11 of the PSC Protocol. Despite the presence of the mechanism, tomorrow’s consultation forms the first time for the PSC to explore this meeting format as a way to overcome the limitation from the other two forms of PSC meetings to engage with member states suspended from the activities of the AU.

The immediate background that precipitated the activation of this format of PSC’s meeting from its long dormancy is traced back to the challenges for effective PSC engagement in countries facing complex transitions induced by military seizure of power. At the 14th Retreat on the Working Methods of the PSC held in November 2022, one of the issues which formed part of the discussions was PSC’s interface with AU member states that are suspend from the activities of the union. Highlighting the relevant provision of the PSC Protocol to enable informal consultations with such member states – Article 8(11) – the conclusions of the 14th Retreat underscored how the PSC may utilise such consultations to engage with AU member states suspended for UCG, to gather first-hand information on the situation on the ground and to work towards finding durable solution.

Additionally, during the AU summit in February, the ministers of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali were present for holding side meetings, although they were not allowed entry into the formal meetings of the summit. One of the issues that they highlighted in their engagement and presence during the summit without access to and presence in the sessions of the Executive Council and AU Assembly sessions was the unfairness of their exclusion while the AU did not suspend a neighbouring country, Chad, where similar military seizure of power took place, and allowed its full participation despite continuing military transitional rule.

It was also in this context that the concrete idea for the convening of the informal consultation was conceived. This emerged during one of the engagements of these ministers. This engagement involved a meeting with the minister of foreign affairs of Tunisia. After the meeting, Tunisia’s foreign minister agreed to explore the convening of an informal consultation that gives the opportunity for the PSC to have direct engagement and hear first-hand from the parties. According to the information Amani Africa received in the consultation on the program of work for April under the Tunisia’s chairship, the informal consultation may see the participation of the three countries at the level of ministers. At the time the program was developed and adopted, in addition to the three West African countries suspended for UCG, Sudan was also anticipated to participate. It is to be seen if Sudan will participate in the light of its recent descent to the ongoing deadly fighting.

The suspension of member states from AU’s activities at the occurrence of UCG is not an end by itself, but rather a means to the desired end result of ensuring the restoration of constitutional order in the concerned member state. The 2000 Lomé Declaration on UCG is in fact clear on the importance of sustained engagement of the AU with the perpetrators of a coup in order to exert the necessary pressure to ascertain a speedy return to constitutional order. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) also clarifies under Article 25(3) that notwithstanding the suspension of a given member state, the AU ‘shall maintain diplomatic contacts and take any initiatives to restore democracy’ in that member state. In light of these guiding norms therefore, it is important to conceptualise suspension as a tool to register displeasure over the breach of agreed community rules and as a lever to use diplomatic efforts in member states affected by UCG for the initiation and implementation of roadmap for relevant reforms that facilitate both the return to constitutional order and its sustainability by preventing recurrence of UCG through addressing the conditions for its occurrence.

Upon suspension from the AU, representatives of member states are not invited to address the PSC as concerned country when the PSC convenes a meeting on their country situation. At the very best, those countries have to present their case by proxy either through members of the PSC or if their view is canvased as part of the report, briefing or statement that the AU Commission presents to the PSC. As a result, with the exception of the only time the PSC has been able to conduct a field visit to one of these member states (the PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali conducted in July 2021 following the coup of May 2021), its direct interface with authorities in charge of the transition processes has been lacking. After the October 2021 military power grab experienced in Sudan, the PSC had also planned to conduct a similar evaluation mission to engage Sudanese actors but the visit could not be carried out as intended. There have also been no PSC missions to the other two member states suspended for UCG, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This is seen by PSC members as having the effect of limiting both PSC’s understanding of perspectives of the de facto authorities and the full scope of the issues and dynamics at play as well as its diplomatic leverage over the authorities. Tomorrow’s informal consultation is accordingly designed to address these perceived challenges around the direct engagement between the PSC and the de facto authorities of countries suspended on account of UCG.

Another critical area the informal consultation could contribute to is in responding to concerns that have been raised from various stakeholders, regarding inconsistencies observed in the way the AU has responded to UCG that occurred in the course of 2021 and 2022. After the consecutive coups that took place in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan in 2021 (Burkina Faso’s coming in 2022), only Chad has remained immune from suspension in line with Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol. Despite Chad’s specific circumstances which led to the PSC’s decision to refrain from imposing immediate suspension, not only has this decision brought up questions around the consistent application of the AU principles and norms banning UCG, it has also raised concern over the perceived differential treatment accorded to Chad – whose representatives had direct access to the PSC during its sessions on the situation in Chad while the other countries were restricted from the same privilege, having been suspended. Although it may not respond to the complex issues that arise from these experiences, the envisaged informal consultation could in part address some of the concerns that have been raised in this regard.

While appreciating the advantages of an informal consultation of the PSC with member states suspended from the AU, it is also important to maintain the established practice through which the PSC keeps track of the status of developments in countries in political transitions. Although it has not had direct exchanges with suspended member states, the PSC constantly maintains engagement on the developments in these countries through the AU Commission and its Chairperson, though the PSC has not been receiving updates as regularly as the period as stipulated in PSC decisions. Indeed, even with PSC’s direct engagement the best way to facilitate effective political transition for restoring constitutional order is through deploying diplomatic initiative (through a special envoy or high-representative or transition support mechanism and through the provision of technical support to transition authorities in required specific transitional tasks) as envisaged the Lomé Declaration and Article 25(3) of ACDEG. The role of the PSC would largely be to mandate the establishment or launching of such diplomatic initiative, the accompanying and monitoring of such initiative, and the review of its decision on suspension based on assessment of progress made.

No formal outcome document is expected from tomorrow’s informal consultation. The consultation is expected to emphasise the importance of AU norms on democracy, good governance and constitutionalism, not only to avert the occurrence of coups, but also to ensure sustained peace, security and stability in Africa. It may commend member states currently undergoing political transitions for their ongoing efforts to restore constitutional order in their respective territories and urge them to continue abiding by the agreed terms in their transition charters and to fully handover authority to democratically elected civilian governments by the envisaged timelines. Highlighting the importance of occasional informal consultations to enable direct interaction between the PSC and member states suspended from the AU, it may stress the need for maintaining the established method of engagement through the auspices of the AU Commission, particularly the Chairperson.


Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Informal consultation with countries in political transition

Date | 26 April 2023

Tomorrow (26 April), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene an informal consultation with representatives of member states undergoing political transitions (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Sudan). The consultation mainly aims to serve as an opportunity for direct engagement between the PSC and representatives of member states suspended from the activities of the AU in relation to unconstitutional changes of government (UCG).

The meeting is being convened on the basis of Article 8(11) of the PSC Protocol and Rule 16 of the PSC Rules of Procedure which envisage informal consultations of the PSC ‘with parties concerned by or interested in a conflict or a situation under its consideration’. As Amani Africa’s Handbook on the AUPSC discusses, although a format yet to be properly operationalised, PSC’s informal consultation – along with closed and open sessions – forms one of the three types of meetings stipulated under the provisions of Article 8, sub-articles 9 to 11 of the PSC Protocol. Despite the presence of the mechanism, tomorrow’s consultation forms the first time for the PSC to explore this meeting format as a way to overcome the limitation from the other two forms of PSC meetings to engage with member states suspended from the activities of the AU.

The immediate background that precipitated the activation of this format of PSC’s meeting from its long dormancy is traced back to the challenges for effective PSC engagement in countries facing complex transitions induced by military seizure of power. At the 14th Retreat on the Working Methods of the PSC held in November 2022, one of the issues which formed part of the discussions was PSC’s interface with AU member states that are suspend from the activities of the union. Highlighting the relevant provision of the PSC Protocol to enable informal consultations with such member states – Article 8(11) – the conclusions of the 14th Retreat underscored how the PSC may utilise such consultations to engage with AU member states suspended for UCG, to gather first-hand information on the situation on the ground and to work towards finding durable solution.

Additionally, during the AU summit in February, the ministers of Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali were present for holding side meetings, although they were not allowed entry into the formal meetings of the summit. One of the issues that they highlighted in their engagement and presence during the summit without access to and presence in the sessions of the Executive Council and AU Assembly sessions was the unfairness of their exclusion while the AU did not suspend a neighbouring country, Chad, where similar military seizure of power took place, and allowed its full participation despite continuing military transitional rule.

It was also in this context that the concrete idea for the convening of the informal consultation was conceived. This emerged during one of the engagements of these ministers. This engagement involved a meeting with the minister of foreign affairs of Tunisia. After the meeting, Tunisia’s foreign minister agreed to explore the convening of an informal consultation that gives the opportunity for the PSC to have direct engagement and hear first-hand from the parties. According to the information Amani Africa received in the consultation on the program of work for April under the Tunisia’s chairship, the informal consultation may see the participation of the three countries at the level of ministers. At the time the program was developed and adopted, in addition to the three West African countries suspended for UCG, Sudan was also anticipated to participate. It is to be seen if Sudan will participate in the light of its recent descent to the ongoing deadly fighting.

The suspension of member states from AU’s activities at the occurrence of UCG is not an end by itself, but rather a means to the desired end result of ensuring the restoration of constitutional order in the concerned member state. The 2000 Lomé Declaration on UCG is in fact clear on the importance of sustained engagement of the AU with the perpetrators of a coup in order to exert the necessary pressure to ascertain a speedy return to constitutional order. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) also clarifies under Article 25(3) that notwithstanding the suspension of a given member state, the AU ‘shall maintain diplomatic contacts and take any initiatives to restore democracy’ in that member state. In light of these guiding norms therefore, it is important to conceptualise suspension as a tool to register displeasure over the breach of agreed community rules and as a lever to use diplomatic efforts in member states affected by UCG for the initiation and implementation of roadmap for relevant reforms that facilitate both the return to constitutional order and its sustainability by preventing recurrence of UCG through addressing the conditions for its occurrence.

Upon suspension from the AU, representatives of member states are not invited to address the PSC as concerned country when the PSC convenes a meeting on their country situation. At the very best, those countries have to present their case by proxy either through members of the PSC or if their view is canvased as part of the report, briefing or statement that the AU Commission presents to the PSC. As a result, with the exception of the only time the PSC has been able to conduct a field visit to one of these member states (the PSC’s evaluation mission to Mali conducted in July 2021 following the coup of May 2021), its direct interface with authorities in charge of the transition processes has been lacking. After the October 2021 military power grab experienced in Sudan, the PSC had also planned to conduct a similar evaluation mission to engage Sudanese actors but the visit could not be carried out as intended. There have also been no PSC missions to the other two member states suspended for UCG, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This is seen by PSC members as having the effect of limiting both PSC’s understanding of perspectives of the de facto authorities and the full scope of the issues and dynamics at play as well as its diplomatic leverage over the authorities. Tomorrow’s informal consultation is accordingly designed to address these perceived challenges around the direct engagement between the PSC and the de facto authorities of countries suspended on account of UCG.

Another critical area the informal consultation could contribute to is in responding to concerns that have been raised from various stakeholders, regarding inconsistencies observed in the way the AU has responded to UCG that occurred in the course of 2021 and 2022. After the consecutive coups that took place in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan in 2021 (Burkina Faso’s coming in 2022), only Chad has remained immune from suspension in line with Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol. Despite Chad’s specific circumstances which led to the PSC’s decision to refrain from imposing immediate suspension, not only has this decision brought up questions around the consistent application of the AU principles and norms banning UCG, it has also raised concern over the perceived differential treatment accorded to Chad – whose representatives had direct access to the PSC during its sessions on the situation in Chad while the other countries were restricted from the same privilege, having been suspended. Although it may not respond to the complex issues that arise from these experiences, the envisaged informal consultation could in part address some of the concerns that have been raised in this regard.

While appreciating the advantages of an informal consultation of the PSC with member states suspended from the AU, it is also important to maintain the established practice through which the PSC keeps track of the status of developments in countries in political transitions. Although it has not had direct exchanges with suspended member states, the PSC constantly maintains engagement on the developments in these countries through the AU Commission and its Chairperson, though the PSC has not been receiving updates as regularly as the period as stipulated in PSC decisions. Indeed, even with PSC’s direct engagement the best way to facilitate effective political transition for restoring constitutional order is through deploying diplomatic initiative (through a special envoy or high-representative or transition support mechanism and through the provision of technical support to transition authorities in required specific transitional tasks) as envisaged the Lomé Declaration and Article 25(3) of ACDEG. The role of the PSC would largely be to mandate the establishment or launching of such diplomatic initiative, the accompanying and monitoring of such initiative, and the review of its decision on suspension based on assessment of progress made.

No formal outcome document is expected from tomorrow’s informal consultation. The consultation is expected to emphasise the importance of AU norms on democracy, good governance and constitutionalism, not only to avert the occurrence of coups, but also to ensure sustained peace, security and stability in Africa. It may commend member states currently undergoing political transitions for their ongoing efforts to restore constitutional order in their respective territories and urge them to continue abiding by the agreed terms in their transition charters and to fully handover authority to democratically elected civilian governments by the envisaged timelines. Highlighting the importance of occasional informal consultations to enable direct interaction between the PSC and member states suspended from the AU, it may stress the need for maintaining the established method of engagement through the auspices of the AU Commission, particularly the Chairperson.


Briefing on the situation in the Sahel region

Briefing on the situation in the Sahel region

Date | 31 October 2022

Tomorrow (31 October), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1116th session to receive a briefing on the situation in the Sahel region as one of the two agenda items tabled for its consideration.

The session is expected to start with an opening remark by Mohammed Arrouchi, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for October 2022, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Mamane Sambo Sidikou, AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, as well as the representatives of the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) are also expected to deliver statements. The representatives of Guinea Bissau and Democratic Republic of Congo will make statements as the current chairs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), respectively. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) is also among the speakers.

The last time the PSC dedicated a stand-alone session on the situation in Sahel was during its 1087th session on 1 June 2022. However, it also considered the political transitions in the countries of the region, namely Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad at its 1106th sessions in September.

The past few years have shown the spike in the intensity and frequency of terrorist attacks and expansion in the geographic spread of terrorism in the region. The security outlook of the region is even more bleak in 2022 as a recent report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) confirms. ACLED’s 2022 mid-year update on Sahel  notes that instability in Sahel is ‘persisting, expanding, and escalating’. Same update indicates that ‘2022 is on track to be the deadliest year for both Burkina Faso and Mali’ since the onset of the crisis more than a decade ago. Conflict intensity remains highest in Burkina Faso among Sahelian states in the first half of 2022, while Mali takes the lead in terms of the reported fatalities. Recent spike of fatalities in Mali puts the country back to its place as ‘the epicentre of the crisis after being surpassed by Burkina Faso in the count of conflict-related deaths in two of the last three years’. However, the situation in Niger seems to be improving in 2022 after registering 129% increase of fatalities in 2021. Worsening security situation is also fuelling political instability in the region as observed in Burkina Faso, which witnessed a coup within a coup this month. The coup came few days after an ambush on a supply convoy on its way to the town of Djibo, capital of the Soum province which remains under blockade for months, reportedly killed 27 soldiers and 10 civilians.

Trends of fatalities

(Source: Jeune Afrique and ACLED)

International security partnerships in the region are facing major setbacks at a time when strong cooperation and coordination is desperately needed. One month after its decision to leave the G5 Sahel Joint Force, on 14 June, Mali’s military authorities announced to end the commitment of Malian personnel serving in the western zone (Mali-Mauritania) and central zone (Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger) as of 30 June. Following this step, Mission’s headquarters were relocated from Bamako to N’djamena while terminating its operational and logistics support for the Malian battalions. The security situation in the three-border area worsened as cross-border cooperation decreased, resulting in the spike of civilian casualties. According to the 3 October 2022 UN Secretary-General report on UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), ‘the death toll for just the first half of 2022 represented more than 90 per cent of the annual toll for 2021’. The last French military unit of Barkhane forces also left Mali on 15 August after a fallout between the two countries following the 24 May coup. Relations between Mali’s transitional authorities and MINUSMA have become increasingly strained, compromising MINUSMA’s ability to discharge its mandate.

Meanwhile, in September, the Independent High-Level Panel led by former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou was launched to undertake an Independent Strategic Assessment of the situation in Sahel. Its findings are expected to be presented to the 36th ordinary session of the AU Assembly in February 2023. Up on its conclusion, the assessment is hoped to offer a deeper understanding of the complex security-governance-development crisis in Sahel and provide guidance on how to effectively address the challenge at a structural level.

On the political front, the region is marked by setbacks in political transitions in Burkina Faso and Chad. In Burkina Faso, on 30 September, army Captain Ibrahim Traore deposed military leader President Paul-Henri Damiba who himself came to power on 24 January of this year overthrowing democratically elected President Roch Kabore. New coup leaders announced the dissolution of interim government and transitional national legislative, and suspension of the transitional charter. Both ECOWAS and AU issued statements condemning the military coup, also calling upon the military authorities to ensure strict compliance to the already agreed transition timetable of 24 months with electoral deadlines for the restoration of constitutional order by 1 July 2024. Two weeks after seizure of power, on 14 October, a national forum of 300 delegates from different groups opened to consider a transition charter and appoint a new interim president in line with a charter. Accordingly, Traore was appointed as transition president until elections are held in July 2024, who in turn named a civilian Prime Minister on 21 October. The forum also adopted part of the charter that prohibits transition president from standing in the upcoming elections. Against this backdrop, two main concerns of ECOWAS and AU on transition timeline and eligibility of interim president in upcoming elections seem to be addressed by the military authorities, which may help the latter to avoid further sanctions from the regional bodies.

In Mali, on 11 October, a Constitutional Commission handed over the preliminary draft of a new Constitution to the President of the transition, Colonel Assimi Goita, which is expected to be put to a referendum in March 2023. The draft of a new constitution could be seen as a right step towards laying out a new social contract that presents Mali a fresh opportunity to forge consensus around the nature, aspirations, and principles of the political state. The draft constitution also forms part of series of decisions by Mali’s transitional authorities in recent months, including the adoption of a new electoral law and the creation of the Independent Electoral Management Authority, and submission of acceptable transition timetable of 24 months. In light of these progress made, it is to be recalled that ECOWAS lifted the economic and financial sanctions in July although it maintains the suspension and targeted sanctions against individuals and groups. During the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) in September, Mali requested the lifting of the remaining sanctions imposed by AU and the regional bloc. The PSC in its last session of 19 September 2022 took note of Mali’s progress but this did not lead to the lifting of the sanction that Council imposed during its 1001st meeting of June 2021.

In Chad, the transition has backtracked following Chad’s Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue extended the transition period for additional 24 months and allowed members of the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to run in upcoming elections. Accordingly, on 10 October, Chad’s military leader, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno was sworn in as President of a two-year transitional period, triggering deadly protests on 20 October that left around 50 people dead and hundreds injured. Both the proposed new timeline and participation of members of the TMC in the upcoming elections contradict the list of conditions of transition set out by the Council during its 996th session of May 2021. It is to be recalled that PSC went out of step with its own established norms and practices when it failed to sanction Chad for the April 2021 military takeover of power. Instead, Council, at its 996th session, requested the TMC, among others, to complete the transition within 18 months from 20 April 2021, further stating that ‘no form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order, would be acceptable to the AU’. It also urged the Chairman and members of the TMC not to run for the upcoming elections. These conditions, reiterated during Council’s 1106th meeting convened on 19 September 2022, have now been breached. Given that the PSC withheld the application of Article 7(1)(g) on suspension of a member state upon the occurrence of unconstitutional change of government such as by seizure of power by the military and suspension of constitutional processes as happened in Chad on the premise of these conditions, the breach of these conditions necessitate the revisiting of PSC’s decision on applying suspension pursuit to Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol.

On the humanitarian front, the condition has not showed any improvement since Council’s lasting meeting on the situation in Sahel in June. The rising insecurity, political volatility, climatic and demographic pressures coupled with elevated global prices for agricultural commodities are exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in the region. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, forced displacement is at ‘an unprecedented high, with over 4 million refugees and internally displace peoples’ across the Sahel in 2022. In Burkina Faso, ‘Violent attacks has driven more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021’, making the country one of the three fastest growing displacement crisis in the world, according to a latest data provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published on 5 September. Close to 2 million (nearly one in 10 persons) have been displaced in the country. Food insecurity has reached ‘alarming levels’ in the region. WFP and FAO recent report highlights that during the June–August 2022 period, around 13 million people were projected to be acutely food insecure, at Crisis level or worse (CH Phase 3 and above), including 1.4 million people in Emergency (CH Phase 4) in the region. This is a nearly 50 percent increase compared to 2021, and over 120 percent higher than the five‑year average. With terrorist activity expanding geographically, some sources claim that up to 40 per cent of Burkina Faso’s territory is outside state control. Several towns including Djibo are under the blockade of terrorist groups, cutting off population’s access to basic goods and services.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Council is expected to express its grave concern over the expanding and escalating threat of terrorism in the Sahel, as well as its impact on the political stability and humanitarian situation of the region. While Council may stress the importance of coordinated military response against terrorist groups in the region, it may also emphasize the importance of a comprehensive counterterrorism approach that would address the multi-layered structural drivers of the scourge. In this respect, Council is likely to welcome the formal launch of the Independent High-Level Panel led by Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou and may look forward to its outcome before the 36th ordinary session of the AU Assembly. Given that Mali remains a key theatre for the fight against terrorism in the region and taking G5 Sahel joint Force’s critical role in this context, Council may urge countries of the G5 Sahel to engage in dialogue to iron out difference on the presidency of the institution and other underlying contentions. On Mali-Cote d’Ivoire tension over the 46 Ivorian soldiers, Council may echo the call made by ECOWAS summit for their unconditional release. On the political transitions in countries of the region, Council is likely to express its disappointment over transition rollback in Burkina Faso and Chad. In relation to Burkina Faso, Council may reiterate the call of the chairperson of the AU Commission for military authorities to ‘ensure strict compliance with electoral deadlines for the restoration of Constitutional order by 1 July 2024, at the latest’. On Chad, the PSC is well placed to revise its earlier decision of not applying suspension if conditions set out for transition were not fulfilled and use its Article 7(1)(g) responsibility for ensuring the credibility of its decision and the relevant norm on unconstitutional changes of government. In addition, Council may condemn the violence that occurred on 20 October against protesters and may further call for a credible investigation into the killings of the protesters.


Briefing on the situation in the Sahel region

Briefing on the situation in the Sahel region

Date | 31 October 2022

Tomorrow (31 October), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1116th session to receive a briefing on the situation in the Sahel region as one of the two agenda items tabled for its consideration.

The session is expected to start with an opening remark by Mohammed Arrouchi, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for October 2022, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Mamane Sambo Sidikou, AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, as well as the representatives of the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) are also expected to deliver statements. The representatives of Guinea Bissau and Democratic Republic of Congo will make statements as the current chairs of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), respectively. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) is also among the speakers.

The last time the PSC dedicated a stand-alone session on the situation in Sahel was during its 1087th session on 1 June 2022. However, it also considered the political transitions in the countries of the region, namely Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad at its 1106th sessions in September.

The past few years have shown the spike in the intensity and frequency of terrorist attacks and expansion in the geographic spread of terrorism in the region. The security outlook of the region is even more bleak in 2022 as a recent report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) confirms. ACLED’s 2022 mid-year update on Sahel  notes that instability in Sahel is ‘persisting, expanding, and escalating’. Same update indicates that ‘2022 is on track to be the deadliest year for both Burkina Faso and Mali’ since the onset of the crisis more than a decade ago. Conflict intensity remains highest in Burkina Faso among Sahelian states in the first half of 2022, while Mali takes the lead in terms of the reported fatalities. Recent spike of fatalities in Mali puts the country back to its place as ‘the epicentre of the crisis after being surpassed by Burkina Faso in the count of conflict-related deaths in two of the last three years’. However, the situation in Niger seems to be improving in 2022 after registering 129% increase of fatalities in 2021. Worsening security situation is also fuelling political instability in the region as observed in Burkina Faso, which witnessed a coup within a coup this month. The coup came few days after an ambush on a supply convoy on its way to the town of Djibo, capital of the Soum province which remains under blockade for months, reportedly killed 27 soldiers and 10 civilians.

Trends of fatalities

(Source: Jeune Afrique and ACLED)

International security partnerships in the region are facing major setbacks at a time when strong cooperation and coordination is desperately needed. One month after its decision to leave the G5 Sahel Joint Force, on 14 June, Mali’s military authorities announced to end the commitment of Malian personnel serving in the western zone (Mali-Mauritania) and central zone (Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger) as of 30 June. Following this step, Mission’s headquarters were relocated from Bamako to N’djamena while terminating its operational and logistics support for the Malian battalions. The security situation in the three-border area worsened as cross-border cooperation decreased, resulting in the spike of civilian casualties. According to the 3 October 2022 UN Secretary-General report on UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), ‘the death toll for just the first half of 2022 represented more than 90 per cent of the annual toll for 2021’. The last French military unit of Barkhane forces also left Mali on 15 August after a fallout between the two countries following the 24 May coup. Relations between Mali’s transitional authorities and MINUSMA have become increasingly strained, compromising MINUSMA’s ability to discharge its mandate.

Meanwhile, in September, the Independent High-Level Panel led by former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou was launched to undertake an Independent Strategic Assessment of the situation in Sahel. Its findings are expected to be presented to the 36th ordinary session of the AU Assembly in February 2023. Up on its conclusion, the assessment is hoped to offer a deeper understanding of the complex security-governance-development crisis in Sahel and provide guidance on how to effectively address the challenge at a structural level.

On the political front, the region is marked by setbacks in political transitions in Burkina Faso and Chad. In Burkina Faso, on 30 September, army Captain Ibrahim Traore deposed military leader President Paul-Henri Damiba who himself came to power on 24 January of this year overthrowing democratically elected President Roch Kabore. New coup leaders announced the dissolution of interim government and transitional national legislative, and suspension of the transitional charter. Both ECOWAS and AU issued statements condemning the military coup, also calling upon the military authorities to ensure strict compliance to the already agreed transition timetable of 24 months with electoral deadlines for the restoration of constitutional order by 1 July 2024. Two weeks after seizure of power, on 14 October, a national forum of 300 delegates from different groups opened to consider a transition charter and appoint a new interim president in line with a charter. Accordingly, Traore was appointed as transition president until elections are held in July 2024, who in turn named a civilian Prime Minister on 21 October. The forum also adopted part of the charter that prohibits transition president from standing in the upcoming elections. Against this backdrop, two main concerns of ECOWAS and AU on transition timeline and eligibility of interim president in upcoming elections seem to be addressed by the military authorities, which may help the latter to avoid further sanctions from the regional bodies.

In Mali, on 11 October, a Constitutional Commission handed over the preliminary draft of a new Constitution to the President of the transition, Colonel Assimi Goita, which is expected to be put to a referendum in March 2023. The draft of a new constitution could be seen as a right step towards laying out a new social contract that presents Mali a fresh opportunity to forge consensus around the nature, aspirations, and principles of the political state. The draft constitution also forms part of series of decisions by Mali’s transitional authorities in recent months, including the adoption of a new electoral law and the creation of the Independent Electoral Management Authority, and submission of acceptable transition timetable of 24 months. In light of these progress made, it is to be recalled that ECOWAS lifted the economic and financial sanctions in July although it maintains the suspension and targeted sanctions against individuals and groups. During the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) in September, Mali requested the lifting of the remaining sanctions imposed by AU and the regional bloc. The PSC in its last session of 19 September 2022 took note of Mali’s progress but this did not lead to the lifting of the sanction that Council imposed during its 1001st meeting of June 2021.

In Chad, the transition has backtracked following Chad’s Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue extended the transition period for additional 24 months and allowed members of the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to run in upcoming elections. Accordingly, on 10 October, Chad’s military leader, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno was sworn in as President of a two-year transitional period, triggering deadly protests on 20 October that left around 50 people dead and hundreds injured. Both the proposed new timeline and participation of members of the TMC in the upcoming elections contradict the list of conditions of transition set out by the Council during its 996th session of May 2021. It is to be recalled that PSC went out of step with its own established norms and practices when it failed to sanction Chad for the April 2021 military takeover of power. Instead, Council, at its 996th session, requested the TMC, among others, to complete the transition within 18 months from 20 April 2021, further stating that ‘no form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order, would be acceptable to the AU’. It also urged the Chairman and members of the TMC not to run for the upcoming elections. These conditions, reiterated during Council’s 1106th meeting convened on 19 September 2022, have now been breached. Given that the PSC withheld the application of Article 7(1)(g) on suspension of a member state upon the occurrence of unconstitutional change of government such as by seizure of power by the military and suspension of constitutional processes as happened in Chad on the premise of these conditions, the breach of these conditions necessitate the revisiting of PSC’s decision on applying suspension pursuit to Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol.

On the humanitarian front, the condition has not showed any improvement since Council’s lasting meeting on the situation in Sahel in June. The rising insecurity, political volatility, climatic and demographic pressures coupled with elevated global prices for agricultural commodities are exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in the region. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, forced displacement is at ‘an unprecedented high, with over 4 million refugees and internally displace peoples’ across the Sahel in 2022. In Burkina Faso, ‘Violent attacks has driven more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021’, making the country one of the three fastest growing displacement crisis in the world, according to a latest data provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published on 5 September. Close to 2 million (nearly one in 10 persons) have been displaced in the country. Food insecurity has reached ‘alarming levels’ in the region. WFP and FAO recent report highlights that during the June–August 2022 period, around 13 million people were projected to be acutely food insecure, at Crisis level or worse (CH Phase 3 and above), including 1.4 million people in Emergency (CH Phase 4) in the region. This is a nearly 50 percent increase compared to 2021, and over 120 percent higher than the five‑year average. With terrorist activity expanding geographically, some sources claim that up to 40 per cent of Burkina Faso’s territory is outside state control. Several towns including Djibo are under the blockade of terrorist groups, cutting off population’s access to basic goods and services.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. Council is expected to express its grave concern over the expanding and escalating threat of terrorism in the Sahel, as well as its impact on the political stability and humanitarian situation of the region. While Council may stress the importance of coordinated military response against terrorist groups in the region, it may also emphasize the importance of a comprehensive counterterrorism approach that would address the multi-layered structural drivers of the scourge. In this respect, Council is likely to welcome the formal launch of the Independent High-Level Panel led by Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou and may look forward to its outcome before the 36th ordinary session of the AU Assembly. Given that Mali remains a key theatre for the fight against terrorism in the region and taking G5 Sahel joint Force’s critical role in this context, Council may urge countries of the G5 Sahel to engage in dialogue to iron out difference on the presidency of the institution and other underlying contentions. On Mali-Cote d’Ivoire tension over the 46 Ivorian soldiers, Council may echo the call made by ECOWAS summit for their unconditional release. On the political transitions in countries of the region, Council is likely to express its disappointment over transition rollback in Burkina Faso and Chad. In relation to Burkina Faso, Council may reiterate the call of the chairperson of the AU Commission for military authorities to ‘ensure strict compliance with electoral deadlines for the restoration of Constitutional order by 1 July 2024, at the latest’. On Chad, the PSC is well placed to revise its earlier decision of not applying suspension if conditions set out for transition were not fulfilled and use its Article 7(1)(g) responsibility for ensuring the credibility of its decision and the relevant norm on unconstitutional changes of government. In addition, Council may condemn the violence that occurred on 20 October against protesters and may further call for a credible investigation into the killings of the protesters.


Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Date | 19 September 2022

Tomorrow (19 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will convene its 1106th session to receive updates on the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali.

The session starts with opening remarks from Amma Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and PSC Chairperson for the month of September 2022, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Maman Sidikou, High Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission for the Sahel (MISAHEL) and Basile Ikouebe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Office in Ndjamena are expected to deliver statements. The representatives of Chad, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to make statements as relevant country and regional mechanisms, in addition to the representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It will be for the second time that Council considers the situation in countries undergoing political transitions due to unconstitutional changes of government as one agenda item. The first was held on 14 April 2022 at its 1076th session where Council discussed the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan. It is not clear why Council has not included Sudan in the agenda item this time. It has been now more than five months since the PSC considered the political transition in Sudan despite its decision, at its 1041st session, to receive monthly update on the evolution of the situation in Sudan.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to review the political developments in the four countries since its last meeting in April. It also presents Council the opportunity to follow up on the implementation of some of its key decisions taken at its 1076th session, including the establishment of a monitoring dashboard of the situations in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan; the organization of a Needs Assessment Mission to Guinea; the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea; and the establishment of a Transition Support Group in Burkina Faso (TSG-BF).

On Burkina Faso, a major development since the last session is the decision of Burkinabe authorities to set a shorter transition period than its initial 36 months timetable. Duration of the transition was a source of disagreement between Burkinabe authorities and ECOWAS as the latter found the 36 months proposal in early March unacceptable. As part of the effort to support the transition in Burkina Faso and resolve the disagreement over the duration of the transition, it is to be recalled that ECOWAS appointed former President of Niger Mahamadou ISSOUFOU as its mediator. Subsequent engagement between ECOWAS and Burkinabe authorities through the mediator bridged differences between the two sides. While the communique of the 61st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority stated that the progress made led to lifting of economic and financial sanctions, there was no specified list of economic & financial sanctions imposed on Burkina Faso. What is lifted could only be the threat of immediate application of unspecified economic and financial sanctions to which reference was made in the March 2022 ECOWAS Authority meeting. Despite various policy measures including the reshuffling of the army command & the understanding reached on the duration of the transition, the security situation in the country did not show any improvement. If anything, the dire security situation has continued to deteriorate since the coup. According to ACLED data, more than 530 violent incidents occurred between February and May 2022, showing a 115 percent year-on-year increase. The humanitarian situation also continues to worsen. According to the latest data provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published on 5 September, ‘violent attacks has driven more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021’ in Burkina Faso, making the country one of the three fastest growing displacement crises in the world. Close to 2 million (nearly one in 10 persons) have been displaced in the country. The same source indicates that the ‘rate of severe food insecurity has nearly doubled compared to last year, with over 600,000 people in emergency hunger levels during this lean season’. The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation underscore the need for ending the political and constitutional crisis and implementing the necessary political and institutional reforms.

On Mali, like in the case of Burkina Faso, diplomatic engagements between ECOWAS and the transition authorities in Mali culminated in acceptable transition timeline of 24 months from 29 March 2022. With Malian transitional authorities submitting a new timetable of 24 months and taking other positive steps notably the promulgation of a new electoral law on 24 June and establishment of the single election management body, Agence Indépendante de Gestion des Elections (AIGE), the 61st ordinary session of ECOWAS authority decided to lift the economic and financial sanctions it imposed on 9 January while maintaining the suspension and targeted sanctions against individuals and groups.

The convening of the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) took place on 6 September in Togo pursuant to 1027th and 1076th sessions of the Council. Co-convened by the AU, ECOWAS, and UN under the auspices of the Togolese government, the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali presented an opportunity for Malian authorities to present steps being taken for implementing the transitional roadmap and mobilize support from regional and international actors for the reform process. The Transitional Authority of Mali, during the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, also requested the lifting of remaining sanctions. It remains to be seen how Council will respond to the call for lifting also of suspension, which under current circumstances could realistically happen only with agreement with ECOWAS. Mali’s request of the lifting of sanction also brings the gap in AU’s normative framework of sanctions into the spotlight as there is still unclarity on the issue of how and when sanctions are lifted.

On Guinea, the country has witnessed deteriorating political situation as tension erupted between the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) (an alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups and a leading opposition group that spearheaded protests against former president Alpha Conde), and the military authority that took over-power unconstitutionally on 5 September 2021. The opposition group staged protests in late July and on 17 August over concerns of military authority’s ‘unilateral management’ of the transition towards a civilian rule. On 8 August, the transition authorities dissolved the FNDC, a further blow to the country’s transition towards democracy. Following the same pattern in Mali and Burkina Faso, the National Transition Council of Guinea set a 36-month transition to civilian rule on 11 May, which ECOWAS rejected. ECOWAS at its 61st ordinary session requested the transition authorities either to propose an acceptable transition timeline until 1 August 2022 or face economic and financial sanctions as well as targeted sanctions. The authorities did not comply with the provided deadline, and it is accordingly susceptible for ECOWAS sanctions. ECOWAS mediator, former Beninese President Boni Yayi, was reportedly in Conakry in August trying to convince the transition authorities to agree for a shorter duration of transition period, but no indication that such diplomatic engagements bore fruit so far.

On Chad, the situation in Chad is marked by two significant developments since Council’s last session in April. The first is the signing of peace agreement between Chad’s transition government and about 40 politico-military groups on 8 August in Doha, Qatar, after more than five months of peace talks. Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), main rebel group which was behind the April attack that cost the life of former President Idriss Déby Into, remains a holdout group, denting the success of the Doha peace talk. The second key development is the launch of the 21-day ‘Inclusive National Dialogue’ on 20 August following the signing of the Doha agreement. The dialogue gathered some 1,400 delegates from various stakeholders. After the launch, the dialogue ran into procedural challenges, its scheduled end has been pushed back by ten days, to 30 September. Apart from FACT, the dialogue was also boycotted by Wakit Tamma, a large coalition of opposition groups and civil society groups. Last week, Chadian forces fired tear gas on supporters of the leader of Transformers, one of the parties of the coalition that boycotted the dialogue, after he was summoned for questioning by authorities. The authorities have been cracking down on members of Transformers, with about 200 having been arrested and held for several days before their release for planning to stage a rally.

In apparent departure to its own norms and established practices, PSC did not sanctioned Chad for the military seizure of power in April 2021 but outlined list of conditions that Chad’s transition authorities should meet. During its 996th session held on 14 May 2021, Council requested the Transitional Military Council (TMC), among others, to complete the transition within 18 months from 20 April 2021, further stating that ‘no form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order, would be acceptable to the AU’. It also urged the Chairman and members of the TMC not to run for the upcoming elections. PSC’s 18-months deadline will lapse this October and it is unlikely that the deadline will be met. The question therefore remains: will the PSC proceed with sanction or extend the transition timeline? The PSC is seen as having dealt with the military seizure of power & the suspension of constitution leniently. For it to be seen to be applying AU norms fairly, at a minimum it needs to uphold its own decisions on Chad by reaffirming the timeline and conditions of the transition as set out in the communique of its 996th session.

The expected outcome is a communique. Council is expected to welcome the agreement reached between ECOWAS and Burkina Faso as well as Mali on the new timetable of the transition and the resultant lifting of the economic and financial sanctions on these countries by ECOWAS. It may also note the convening of the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, the promulgation of a new electoral law and the establishment of the single election management body in relation to Mali and the need for enhancing closer working relationship and support for the transitional process in Mali; and the signing of Doha peace agreement between Chadian Transitional Authorities and politico-military groups, the launch of the ‘inclusive national dialogue’ in relation to Chad as steps in the right direction towards the restoration of constitutional order and ensure lasting peace in these countries. While commending the signing of the peace agreement, it may call upon the holdout groups to join the peace process. It may also reiterate the demands it set in its 996th session and call on the transitional authorities to respect the freedom of assembly and protest of opposition groups and ensure full inclusion of all political and social forces in the national dialogue by addressing concerns of various stakeholders. On Guinea, Council may express its dissatisfaction over the Transitional authorities’ proposal of 36 months transition, and thus, it may urge the authorities to engage with ECOWAS in good faith with the view to reaching agreement on acceptable timetable for a rapid return to constitutional order and call for the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea for working with ECOWAS to get a transitional roadmap agreeable to all. It may also express concern over the deteriorating socio-political situation in Guinea due to the political disagreement with opposition groups over the transition. In this regard, Council may urge transition authorities to respect political rights as enshrined in the relevant instruments of the AU and hold inclusive national dialogue to resolve underlying issues. Council may also express its grave concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation particularly in the context of Burkina Faso and Mali, which Council may call upon international partners to step up efforts to address these situations.


Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Date | 19 September 2022

Tomorrow (19 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will convene its 1106th session to receive updates on the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali.

The session starts with opening remarks from Amma Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and PSC Chairperson for the month of September 2022, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Maman Sidikou, High Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission for the Sahel (MISAHEL) and Basile Ikouebe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Office in Ndjamena are expected to deliver statements. The representatives of Chad, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to make statements as relevant country and regional mechanisms, in addition to the representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It will be for the second time that Council considers the situation in countries undergoing political transitions due to unconstitutional changes of government as one agenda item. The first was held on 14 April 2022 at its 1076th session where Council discussed the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan. It is not clear why Council has not included Sudan in the agenda item this time. It has been now more than five months since the PSC considered the political transition in Sudan despite its decision, at its 1041st session, to receive monthly update on the evolution of the situation in Sudan.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to review the political developments in the four countries since its last meeting in April. It also presents Council the opportunity to follow up on the implementation of some of its key decisions taken at its 1076th session, including the establishment of a monitoring dashboard of the situations in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan; the organization of a Needs Assessment Mission to Guinea; the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea; and the establishment of a Transition Support Group in Burkina Faso (TSG-BF).

On Burkina Faso, a major development since the last session is the decision of Burkinabe authorities to set a shorter transition period than its initial 36 months timetable. Duration of the transition was a source of disagreement between Burkinabe authorities and ECOWAS as the latter found the 36 months proposal in early March unacceptable. As part of the effort to support the transition in Burkina Faso and resolve the disagreement over the duration of the transition, it is to be recalled that ECOWAS appointed former President of Niger Mahamadou ISSOUFOU as its mediator. Subsequent engagement between ECOWAS and Burkinabe authorities through the mediator bridged differences between the two sides. While the communique of the 61st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority stated that the progress made led to lifting of economic and financial sanctions, there was no specified list of economic & financial sanctions imposed on Burkina Faso. What is lifted could only be the threat of immediate application of unspecified economic and financial sanctions to which reference was made in the March 2022 ECOWAS Authority meeting. Despite various policy measures including the reshuffling of the army command & the understanding reached on the duration of the transition, the security situation in the country did not show any improvement. If anything, the dire security situation has continued to deteriorate since the coup. According to ACLED data, more than 530 violent incidents occurred between February and May 2022, showing a 115 percent year-on-year increase. The humanitarian situation also continues to worsen. According to the latest data provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published on 5 September, ‘violent attacks has driven more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021’ in Burkina Faso, making the country one of the three fastest growing displacement crises in the world. Close to 2 million (nearly one in 10 persons) have been displaced in the country. The same source indicates that the ‘rate of severe food insecurity has nearly doubled compared to last year, with over 600,000 people in emergency hunger levels during this lean season’. The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation underscore the need for ending the political and constitutional crisis and implementing the necessary political and institutional reforms.

On Mali, like in the case of Burkina Faso, diplomatic engagements between ECOWAS and the transition authorities in Mali culminated in acceptable transition timeline of 24 months from 29 March 2022. With Malian transitional authorities submitting a new timetable of 24 months and taking other positive steps notably the promulgation of a new electoral law on 24 June and establishment of the single election management body, Agence Indépendante de Gestion des Elections (AIGE), the 61st ordinary session of ECOWAS authority decided to lift the economic and financial sanctions it imposed on 9 January while maintaining the suspension and targeted sanctions against individuals and groups.

The convening of the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) took place on 6 September in Togo pursuant to 1027th and 1076th sessions of the Council. Co-convened by the AU, ECOWAS, and UN under the auspices of the Togolese government, the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali presented an opportunity for Malian authorities to present steps being taken for implementing the transitional roadmap and mobilize support from regional and international actors for the reform process. The Transitional Authority of Mali, during the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, also requested the lifting of remaining sanctions. It remains to be seen how Council will respond to the call for lifting also of suspension, which under current circumstances could realistically happen only with agreement with ECOWAS. Mali’s request of the lifting of sanction also brings the gap in AU’s normative framework of sanctions into the spotlight as there is still unclarity on the issue of how and when sanctions are lifted.

On Guinea, the country has witnessed deteriorating political situation as tension erupted between the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) (an alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups and a leading opposition group that spearheaded protests against former president Alpha Conde), and the military authority that took over-power unconstitutionally on 5 September 2021. The opposition group staged protests in late July and on 17 August over concerns of military authority’s ‘unilateral management’ of the transition towards a civilian rule. On 8 August, the transition authorities dissolved the FNDC, a further blow to the country’s transition towards democracy. Following the same pattern in Mali and Burkina Faso, the National Transition Council of Guinea set a 36-month transition to civilian rule on 11 May, which ECOWAS rejected. ECOWAS at its 61st ordinary session requested the transition authorities either to propose an acceptable transition timeline until 1 August 2022 or face economic and financial sanctions as well as targeted sanctions. The authorities did not comply with the provided deadline, and it is accordingly susceptible for ECOWAS sanctions. ECOWAS mediator, former Beninese President Boni Yayi, was reportedly in Conakry in August trying to convince the transition authorities to agree for a shorter duration of transition period, but no indication that such diplomatic engagements bore fruit so far.

On Chad, the situation in Chad is marked by two significant developments since Council’s last session in April. The first is the signing of peace agreement between Chad’s transition government and about 40 politico-military groups on 8 August in Doha, Qatar, after more than five months of peace talks. Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), main rebel group which was behind the April attack that cost the life of former President Idriss Déby Into, remains a holdout group, denting the success of the Doha peace talk. The second key development is the launch of the 21-day ‘Inclusive National Dialogue’ on 20 August following the signing of the Doha agreement. The dialogue gathered some 1,400 delegates from various stakeholders. After the launch, the dialogue ran into procedural challenges, its scheduled end has been pushed back by ten days, to 30 September. Apart from FACT, the dialogue was also boycotted by Wakit Tamma, a large coalition of opposition groups and civil society groups. Last week, Chadian forces fired tear gas on supporters of the leader of Transformers, one of the parties of the coalition that boycotted the dialogue, after he was summoned for questioning by authorities. The authorities have been cracking down on members of Transformers, with about 200 having been arrested and held for several days before their release for planning to stage a rally.

In apparent departure to its own norms and established practices, PSC did not sanctioned Chad for the military seizure of power in April 2021 but outlined list of conditions that Chad’s transition authorities should meet. During its 996th session held on 14 May 2021, Council requested the Transitional Military Council (TMC), among others, to complete the transition within 18 months from 20 April 2021, further stating that ‘no form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order, would be acceptable to the AU’. It also urged the Chairman and members of the TMC not to run for the upcoming elections. PSC’s 18-months deadline will lapse this October and it is unlikely that the deadline will be met. The question therefore remains: will the PSC proceed with sanction or extend the transition timeline? The PSC is seen as having dealt with the military seizure of power & the suspension of constitution leniently. For it to be seen to be applying AU norms fairly, at a minimum it needs to uphold its own decisions on Chad by reaffirming the timeline and conditions of the transition as set out in the communique of its 996th session.

The expected outcome is a communique. Council is expected to welcome the agreement reached between ECOWAS and Burkina Faso as well as Mali on the new timetable of the transition and the resultant lifting of the economic and financial sanctions on these countries by ECOWAS. It may also note the convening of the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, the promulgation of a new electoral law and the establishment of the single election management body in relation to Mali and the need for enhancing closer working relationship and support for the transitional process in Mali; and the signing of Doha peace agreement between Chadian Transitional Authorities and politico-military groups, the launch of the ‘inclusive national dialogue’ in relation to Chad as steps in the right direction towards the restoration of constitutional order and ensure lasting peace in these countries. While commending the signing of the peace agreement, it may call upon the holdout groups to join the peace process. It may also reiterate the demands it set in its 996th session and call on the transitional authorities to respect the freedom of assembly and protest of opposition groups and ensure full inclusion of all political and social forces in the national dialogue by addressing concerns of various stakeholders. On Guinea, Council may express its dissatisfaction over the Transitional authorities’ proposal of 36 months transition, and thus, it may urge the authorities to engage with ECOWAS in good faith with the view to reaching agreement on acceptable timetable for a rapid return to constitutional order and call for the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea for working with ECOWAS to get a transitional roadmap agreeable to all. It may also express concern over the deteriorating socio-political situation in Guinea due to the political disagreement with opposition groups over the transition. In this regard, Council may urge transition authorities to respect political rights as enshrined in the relevant instruments of the AU and hold inclusive national dialogue to resolve underlying issues. Council may also express its grave concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation particularly in the context of Burkina Faso and Mali, which Council may call upon international partners to step up efforts to address these situations.


Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Update on some countries in political transitions (Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali)

Date | 19 September 2022

Tomorrow (19 September), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council will convene its 1106th session to receive updates on the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, and Mali.

The session starts with opening remarks from Amma Twum-Amoah, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU and PSC Chairperson for the month of September 2022, followed by a statement from Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Maman Sidikou, High Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission for the Sahel (MISAHEL) and Basile Ikouebe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Office in Ndjamena are expected to deliver statements. The representatives of Chad, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to make statements as relevant country and regional mechanisms, in addition to the representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

It will be for the second time that Council considers the situation in countries undergoing political transitions due to unconstitutional changes of government as one agenda item. The first was held on 14 April 2022 at its 1076th session where Council discussed the political transitions in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan. It is not clear why Council has not included Sudan in the agenda item this time. It has been now more than five months since the PSC considered the political transition in Sudan despite its decision, at its 1041st session, to receive monthly update on the evolution of the situation in Sudan.

Tomorrow’s session is expected to review the political developments in the four countries since its last meeting in April. It also presents Council the opportunity to follow up on the implementation of some of its key decisions taken at its 1076th session, including the establishment of a monitoring dashboard of the situations in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan; the organization of a Needs Assessment Mission to Guinea; the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea; and the establishment of a Transition Support Group in Burkina Faso (TSG-BF).

On Burkina Faso, a major development since the last session is the decision of Burkinabe authorities to set a shorter transition period than its initial 36 months timetable. Duration of the transition was a source of disagreement between Burkinabe authorities and ECOWAS as the latter found the 36 months proposal in early March unacceptable. As part of the effort to support the transition in Burkina Faso and resolve the disagreement over the duration of the transition, it is to be recalled that ECOWAS appointed former President of Niger Mahamadou ISSOUFOU as its mediator. Subsequent engagement between ECOWAS and Burkinabe authorities through the mediator bridged differences between the two sides. While the communique of the 61st ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority stated that the progress made led to lifting of economic and financial sanctions, there was no specified list of economic & financial sanctions imposed on Burkina Faso. What is lifted could only be the threat of immediate application of unspecified economic and financial sanctions to which reference was made in the March 2022 ECOWAS Authority meeting. Despite various policy measures including the reshuffling of the army command & the understanding reached on the duration of the transition, the security situation in the country did not show any improvement. If anything, the dire security situation has continued to deteriorate since the coup. According to ACLED data, more than 530 violent incidents occurred between February and May 2022, showing a 115 percent year-on-year increase. The humanitarian situation also continues to worsen. According to the latest data provided by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published on 5 September, ‘violent attacks has driven more people to flee between January and July 2022 than during the entire year of 2021’ in Burkina Faso, making the country one of the three fastest growing displacement crises in the world. Close to 2 million (nearly one in 10 persons) have been displaced in the country. The same source indicates that the ‘rate of severe food insecurity has nearly doubled compared to last year, with over 600,000 people in emergency hunger levels during this lean season’. The deteriorating security and humanitarian situation underscore the need for ending the political and constitutional crisis and implementing the necessary political and institutional reforms.

On Mali, like in the case of Burkina Faso, diplomatic engagements between ECOWAS and the transition authorities in Mali culminated in acceptable transition timeline of 24 months from 29 March 2022. With Malian transitional authorities submitting a new timetable of 24 months and taking other positive steps notably the promulgation of a new electoral law on 24 June and establishment of the single election management body, Agence Indépendante de Gestion des Elections (AIGE), the 61st ordinary session of ECOWAS authority decided to lift the economic and financial sanctions it imposed on 9 January while maintaining the suspension and targeted sanctions against individuals and groups.

The convening of the 3rd meeting of the Monitoring and Support Group for the Transition in Mali (GST-Mali) took place on 6 September in Togo pursuant to 1027th and 1076th sessions of the Council. Co-convened by the AU, ECOWAS, and UN under the auspices of the Togolese government, the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali presented an opportunity for Malian authorities to present steps being taken for implementing the transitional roadmap and mobilize support from regional and international actors for the reform process. The Transitional Authority of Mali, during the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, also requested the lifting of remaining sanctions. It remains to be seen how Council will respond to the call for lifting also of suspension, which under current circumstances could realistically happen only with agreement with ECOWAS. Mali’s request of the lifting of sanction also brings the gap in AU’s normative framework of sanctions into the spotlight as there is still unclarity on the issue of how and when sanctions are lifted.

On Guinea, the country has witnessed deteriorating political situation as tension erupted between the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) (an alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups and a leading opposition group that spearheaded protests against former president Alpha Conde), and the military authority that took over-power unconstitutionally on 5 September 2021. The opposition group staged protests in late July and on 17 August over concerns of military authority’s ‘unilateral management’ of the transition towards a civilian rule. On 8 August, the transition authorities dissolved the FNDC, a further blow to the country’s transition towards democracy. Following the same pattern in Mali and Burkina Faso, the National Transition Council of Guinea set a 36-month transition to civilian rule on 11 May, which ECOWAS rejected. ECOWAS at its 61st ordinary session requested the transition authorities either to propose an acceptable transition timeline until 1 August 2022 or face economic and financial sanctions as well as targeted sanctions. The authorities did not comply with the provided deadline, and it is accordingly susceptible for ECOWAS sanctions. ECOWAS mediator, former Beninese President Boni Yayi, was reportedly in Conakry in August trying to convince the transition authorities to agree for a shorter duration of transition period, but no indication that such diplomatic engagements bore fruit so far.

On Chad, the situation in Chad is marked by two significant developments since Council’s last session in April. The first is the signing of peace agreement between Chad’s transition government and about 40 politico-military groups on 8 August in Doha, Qatar, after more than five months of peace talks. Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), main rebel group which was behind the April attack that cost the life of former President Idriss Déby Into, remains a holdout group, denting the success of the Doha peace talk. The second key development is the launch of the 21-day ‘Inclusive National Dialogue’ on 20 August following the signing of the Doha agreement. The dialogue gathered some 1,400 delegates from various stakeholders. After the launch, the dialogue ran into procedural challenges, its scheduled end has been pushed back by ten days, to 30 September. Apart from FACT, the dialogue was also boycotted by Wakit Tamma, a large coalition of opposition groups and civil society groups. Last week, Chadian forces fired tear gas on supporters of the leader of Transformers, one of the parties of the coalition that boycotted the dialogue, after he was summoned for questioning by authorities. The authorities have been cracking down on members of Transformers, with about 200 having been arrested and held for several days before their release for planning to stage a rally.

In apparent departure to its own norms and established practices, PSC did not sanctioned Chad for the military seizure of power in April 2021 but outlined list of conditions that Chad’s transition authorities should meet. During its 996th session held on 14 May 2021, Council requested the Transitional Military Council (TMC), among others, to complete the transition within 18 months from 20 April 2021, further stating that ‘no form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order, would be acceptable to the AU’. It also urged the Chairman and members of the TMC not to run for the upcoming elections. PSC’s 18-months deadline will lapse this October and it is unlikely that the deadline will be met. The question therefore remains: will the PSC proceed with sanction or extend the transition timeline? The PSC is seen as having dealt with the military seizure of power & the suspension of constitution leniently. For it to be seen to be applying AU norms fairly, at a minimum it needs to uphold its own decisions on Chad by reaffirming the timeline and conditions of the transition as set out in the communique of its 996th session.

The expected outcome is a communique. Council is expected to welcome the agreement reached between ECOWAS and Burkina Faso as well as Mali on the new timetable of the transition and the resultant lifting of the economic and financial sanctions on these countries by ECOWAS. It may also note the convening of the 3rd meeting of the GST-Mali, the promulgation of a new electoral law and the establishment of the single election management body in relation to Mali and the need for enhancing closer working relationship and support for the transitional process in Mali; and the signing of Doha peace agreement between Chadian Transitional Authorities and politico-military groups, the launch of the ‘inclusive national dialogue’ in relation to Chad as steps in the right direction towards the restoration of constitutional order and ensure lasting peace in these countries. While commending the signing of the peace agreement, it may call upon the holdout groups to join the peace process. It may also reiterate the demands it set in its 996th session and call on the transitional authorities to respect the freedom of assembly and protest of opposition groups and ensure full inclusion of all political and social forces in the national dialogue by addressing concerns of various stakeholders. On Guinea, Council may express its dissatisfaction over the Transitional authorities’ proposal of 36 months transition, and thus, it may urge the authorities to engage with ECOWAS in good faith with the view to reaching agreement on acceptable timetable for a rapid return to constitutional order and call for the operationalization of the Monitoring Mechanism on the Transition in Guinea for working with ECOWAS to get a transitional roadmap agreeable to all. It may also express concern over the deteriorating socio-political situation in Guinea due to the political disagreement with opposition groups over the transition. In this regard, Council may urge transition authorities to respect political rights as enshrined in the relevant instruments of the AU and hold inclusive national dialogue to resolve underlying issues. Council may also express its grave concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation particularly in the context of Burkina Faso and Mali, which Council may call upon international partners to step up efforts to address these situations.