Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), met in Accra on Thursday to discuss the next steps of the bloc following the coup in Burkina Faso last month, and the situation in Mali and Guinea where the militaries also seized power.
"It is with a heavy heart that I welcome all of you," said Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, ECOWAS Chairman and President of Ghana during the opening ceremony.
The summit "will focus on the emerging threats in our region that stem from the military interference in Mali and its contagious influence in Guinea and Burkina Faso," Akufo-Addo said.
The head of the group welcomed the fact that the attempt to remove Umaro Sissoco Embalo, President of Guinea-Bissau, failed earlier this week, but called on the bloc to work together to find a solution to what he called a "dangerous trend" before it "devastates the whole region".
In the last 18 months, soldiers have grabbed power in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Despite international pressure for a return to constitutional rule, none of the military rulers have yet to organize new elections.
The new wave of coups kicked off in Mali in 2020, followed by another in Guinea the following year, and then Burkina Faso last month. Just a week later, gunmen also tried to overthrow the president of Guinea-Bissau in a machine-gun attack that lasted hours but failed.
Military power grabs are nothing new in the region: There have been nearly 100 in West Africa since 1946 but they'd dropped off over the past decade.
Now the regional body known as ECOWAS is grappling with how to bring about a return to democracy in three of its 15 member states, where juntas have seized power.