ECOWAS imposes further sanctions on Mali

It is unacceptable for an illegitimate military transitional government to hold Malian people hostage for another 5 years, bloc says

Aurore Bonny   | 10.01.2022
ECOWAS imposes further sanctions on Mali

DOUALA, Cameroon 

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decided Sunday to impose additional sanctions on its member Mali, whose military government is demanding a longer transition period following a coup last May.

"The Authority, after deliberations, regrettably observed the failure of the Transition authorities in Mali to take the necessary steps for the organization of the Presidential elections on 27 February 2022, contrary to the agreement reached with the ECOWAS Authority on 15 September 2021 and the commitment in the Transition Charter,” ECOWAS said in a communique after an extraordinary summit of West African leaders in Accra, Ghana.

According to the communique, the new measures include the withdrawal of all ECOWAS ambassadors in Mali, the closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali and the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Mali, with the exception of the following products: essential consumer goods, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19, and petroleum products and electricity.

It also includes the freezing of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS central banks, the freezing of assets of the Malian state and the state enterprises and parastatals in commercial banks and the suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from all financial institutions.

The bloc plans to lift the sanctions gradually when Malian authorities will realize a timetable "finalized and on monitored satisfactory progress.”

Beyond these sanctions, West African leaders have decided to create a Standby Force to be ready for any eventuality.

Assimi Goita, president of the Malian transition and head of the junta that took power, was supposed to organize elections in February 2022 as opposed to 2026, the year in which he plans to hold the next presidential election.

ECOWAS considers this timetable "totally unacceptable" and deplored "the obvious and flagrant lack of political will from the transitional authorities, which has led to the absence of any tangible progress in the preparation of elections."

It "simply means that an illegitimate military transitional government will hold the Malian people hostage for the next five years," it noted, reiterating its call on Malian authorities to focus on activities aimed at a rapid return to constitutional order and to defer essential reforms to the legitimate elected institutions that will be established after the elections.

The leaders of the transition "energetically" condemned the sanctions, which they consider "illegal and illegitimate" and "inhumane in character," according to a statement seen by Anadolu Agency signed by Col. Abdoulaye Maiga, the government spokesman.

The bloc’s decisions affect a population already hard hit by the security and health crisis, according to Maiga.

He said the Malian authorities reject the closure of land and air borders between Mali and ECOWAS as well as the suspension of trade transactions and the freezing of Malian state assets.

"The government of Mali regrets that West African sub-regional organizations are being used by ex-regional powers with unvoiced goals," he added.

He also said that retaliatory measures would be announced in the coming hours while recalling the country's ambassadors accredited in ECOWAS member states "on the basis of reciprocity."

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