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West Africa bloc suspends post-coup Burkina

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) – West African leaders on Friday decided to suspend Burkina Faso from the regional bloc following a coup, but will not impose other sanctions pending the outcome of talks with the junta.

Conferring four days after the latest military takeover in their region, heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to send two missions to Ouagadougou, a participant at their summit said.

A mission of ECOWAS chiefs of staff flew to the Burkinabe capital yesterday, followed by ministerial-level envoys tomorrow.

United Nations envoy to West Africa and the Sahel Mahamat Saleh Annadif is also to visit this weekend.

The leaders will meet again on February 3 in Ghana’s capital Accra to assess the outcome of these missions and see whether additional sanctions should be imposed along with suspension, the source said.

Rebel soldiers seized President Roch Marc Christian Kabore on Monday amid rising anger at his failure to stem extremist violence ravaging the impoverished nation.

The new leader is Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, 41, a rising star in the military who commands an eastern region.

In the past 18 months, the ECOWAS has suspended two other members – Guinea and Mali – where coups have occurred.

But it has also imposed an array of sanctions against them, including measures targetting their leaders.