ECOWAS imposes tough new sanctions on Mali over election delay - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Sunday, January 9, 2022

ECOWAS imposes tough new sanctions on Mali over election delay

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday imposed tough new sanctions on Mali after reviewing the country’s political crisis. The military junta had submitted a new timeframe for a transition back to civilian rule at the last minute after its first proposal was rejected.

The 15-member bloc said it had agreed to impose additional sanctions with immediate effect. These included the closure of members' land and air borders with Mali, the suspension of non-essential financial transactions, and the freezing of Malian state assets in ECOWAS commercial banks and by the central bank of the eight-nation West African CFA franc zone.

In a communiqué issued after an emergency summit in Ghana’s capital Accra, ECOWAS said it found the proposed timetable for a transition back to constitutional rule totally unacceptable.

The ECOWAS meeting came after months of increasing tensions over the timetable for restoring civilian rule in Mali after a military takeover in 2020.

In August that year, army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita toppled the elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita amid street protests against his unpopular rule.

Under threat of sanctions, Goita subsequently promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections.

But he staged a de facto second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government.

The move disrupted the reform timetable and was met with widespread diplomatic condemnation.

Although ECOWAS insisted that Mali hold elections in February, the government then said it would only set an election date after holding a nationwide conference – arguing that a peaceful vote was more important than speed.

Some portions of Mali lie outside of state control, with the government struggling to quell a jihadist insurgency that has raged since 2012.

On 30 December, after Mali’s reform conference ended, the government suggested a transition period of between six months and five years, starting from 1 January 2022.

This would enable the authorities to “carry out structural institutional reforms and (organize) credible, fair and transparent elections”, it said.

But ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan asked the regime to revise that plan during a visit last week, Mali’s foreign minister said.

On Saturday, the junta submitted a new proposed timetable to the bloc’s acting president, Malian state television reported – without giving any details about its contents.

The return to civilian rule has put the bloc’s credibility on the line as it seeks to uphold fundamental principles of governance and contain regional instability.

At a summit on December 12, its leaders reiterated demands that the elections be held by 27 February as initially planned.

They maintained sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans within the ECOWAS region against around 150 junta figures and their families, and threatened further “economic and financial” measures.

A West African Economic and Monetary Union summit will immediately precede the ECOWAS talks in Accra, with its eight members meeting to lead concerted action and impose new economic sanctions.


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