Sunday, 20 September 2015

If It Fails To Hand Over Power As Promised Africa Must Deny General Gilbert Diendere's Illegal Regime Diplomatic Recognition

One hopes that the coup leaders in Burkina Faso will keep their word - and hand over power on Sunday, to President Michel Kafando: as promised to Senegal's President Macky Sall, the current head of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), and Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi.

If they have a change of mind at the eleventh hour, and refuse to step down, they must be made international pariahs immediately.

It must be made plain to General Gilbert Diendere that the illegal takeover of power by the Presidential Guard in Burkina Faso will not be tolerated by Ecowas and the African Union (AU). The two groupings must immediately request all their member-states not to accord diplomatic recognition to General Gilbert Diendere's illegitimate regime.

Ecowas and the AU should follow that up with a request to the UN and the European Union to also deny diplomatic recognition to the Burkinabe military regime - and maintain their recognition of President Michel Kafando's interim governent instead.

The government of Ghana deserves praise for its swift condemnation of the overthrow of the regime of the interim President Michel Kafando and the Prime Minister Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida.

Additionally, Ecowas must also ask the Western nations to freeze all the overseas bank accounts, of General Diendere and the officers who carried out the coup, and their immediate families. All the Presidential Guard officer corps' members and their familiy members should also be slapped with travel bans to the West.

In the event they refuse to step down from power as promised, the regional body must meet quickly to issue an ultimatum to General Diendere and his colleagues, to restore the transitional regime of President Michel Kafando to power again within 14 days - or face further sanctions and possible trials for crimes against humanity: for the killing of civilians protesting against the coup.

The last thing that Ghana's needs is being flooded with refugees from Burkina Faso. That is why it is in our interest that planned elections under the interim regime still go ahead, to ensure our sister nation's stability.

It is also necessary, as a gesture of reconciliation, that former President Campaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress (CAP) is allowed to participate in those elections. It was unfair to exclude them from the planned elections in the first place. Not many Burkinabe will vote for that party in any case - so why ban it?

There clearly is a need to find a role that will keep General Diendere's unit busy. Will the well-trained Burkinabe Presidential Guard not make perfect peacekeepers in Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Somalia, one wonders?

Could they not be asked to send peacekeeping contingents to all the four nations mentioned above? It is said that the devil finds work for idle hands. Such AU and UN peacekeeping assignments will definitely keep them occupied.

But, first of all, General Diendere and his colleagues must restore the interim government to power again as promised. Diendere can go into exile in the Ivory Coast to join his friend and ally former President Blaise Campaore.

And Ecowas must ensure the handover of power, by making it plain  to General Diendere, that in the event they fail to honour their promise to step down, the  international community will deny their illegitimate regime diplomatic recognition, and continue to maintain their recognition of interim President Kafando's transition government. It will mean in practice the withdrawal of all bilateral and multilateral aid to Burkina Faso if the Burkinabe military holds on to power. If it remains in power, the military regime faces economic strangulation, in short.

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