West African leaders lift sanctions on Mali

ECOWAS bloc agrees on 2 years of transition for Burkina Faso

James Tasamba and Enoch Fiifi Forson   | 04.07.2022
West African leaders lift sanctions on Mali

KIGALI, Rwanda/ACCRA, Ghana

Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc on Sunday lifted economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali with immediate effect.

ECOWAS imposed sanctions on Mali in January for delaying to restore democratic rule.

Meeting at an ordinary summit of heads of state and government in Ghana’s capital, Accra, the leaders said the sanctions were lifted after the transition government put in place some essential prerequisites, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the outgoing president of the ECOWAS Commission, told a news briefing.

These included coming out with an electoral roadmap for the return to constitutional order.

According to the electoral calendar unveiled by the junta last week, the presidential election will be held in February 2024.

This will be preceded by a referendum on the new Constitution in March 2023, local elections in June 2023, and legislative elections between October and November 2023.

But the summit maintained the suspension of Mali from ECOWAS until the return to constitutional rule as well as individual sanctions, said Kassi Brou.

With the lifting of the sanctions, borders with Mali will reopen and ECOWAS diplomats are set to return to Bamako to engage with the military leaders.

The leaders also urged the junta in Mali to comply with the transitional charter which prohibits transitional leaders from participating in the democratic elections.

Mali was rocked by two subsequent coups, in August 2020 and in May 2021.

On Burkina Faso, the leaders insisted on a 24-month transition period from July 1 instead of 36 months proposed by the junta, said Kassi Brou.

On Guinea, the leaders gave the military junta until the end of July to present an acceptable transition timetable after rejecting a transition period of 36 months suggested by the junta.

Thomas Boni Yaya, a former president of Benin, was appointed as the new mediator for Guinea and instructed to immediately continue discussions with Conakry.

Earlier, the leaders elected Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo as the new ECOWAS chairman, replacing Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who had served for two terms since 2020.

Akufo-Addo assumed the rotating chairmanship on Sept. 7, 2020 in Niamey, Niger after Niger’s former President Mahamadou Issoufou ended his tenure.

In June, 2021, Akufo-Addo’s mandate was renewed for another year based on what was termed as his sterling leadership and to complete institutional reforms geared towards the reduction of the number of statutory appointees of the ECOWAS Commission.

Also on Sunday, Gambian ambassador Omar Aliou Toure was appointed the new president of the ECOWAS Commission to replace Kassi Brou.

The summit also reduced the number of ECOWAS commissions to eight from 15 in a move aimed at cutting the regional bloc’s operating costs.

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