West Africa bloc ECOWAS hits Mali with sanctions after poll delay | Elections News

A regional body closes the border with Mali and imposes economic sanctions after coup leaders postponed the vote.

The union said the main West African regional bloc will close the border with Mali and impose sweeping economic sanctions in response to delays in holding elections promised after the military coup in 2020.

The announcement on Sunday came after an extraordinary summit of leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Ghana’s capital Accra to discuss a proposal by Mali’s transitional authorities to hold elections in December 2025 instead of next month as it was originally. agreed.

The Economic Community of West African States said in a statement that it found the proposed transition timetable completely unacceptable.

She added that this timetable “simply means that an illegitimate military transitional government will take the Malian people hostage.”

The 15-member bloc said it agreed to impose additional sanctions with immediate effect, including closing members’ land and air borders with Mali, suspending non-essential financial transactions, and freezing state financial assets in Central and ECOWAS. commercial banks.

There was no immediate response from the financial authorities.

In August 2020, army officers led by Colonel Asimi Gueta ousted elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta amid street protests against his unpopular rule.

Under the threat of sanctions, Gueta later promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022 after presidential and legislative elections.

But he launched a second de facto coup d’état in May 2021, forcing an interim civilian government.

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

The Economic Community of West African States insisted that Mali hold elections in February.

But the government then said it would not set a date for the elections until after a nationwide conference was held – saying that a peaceful vote was more important than speed.

On December 30, after the Mali reform conference ended, the government proposed a transition period of six months to five years, starting from January 1, 2022.

But Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said ECOWAS mediator Goodluck Jonathan had asked the military government to review that plan during a visit last week.

On Saturday, state Malian television reported that the military rulers presented a new proposed timetable.

Foreign Minister Diop said the move aims to “maintain good dialogue and cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States,” without going into any details.

“The counter-proposal to Mali is a four-year transition period. It is a joke,” said a senior official from Ghana, which holds the presidency of the Economic Community of West African States.

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

Parts of Mali lie outside state control, as the government struggles to quell the armed uprising that has erupted since 2012.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responded to Gueta’s first coup in 2020 by closing Mali’s borders, imposing trade restrictions, and halting the country’s participation in decision-making bodies.

The Malian army installed a civilian-led government in response and pledged to hold elections, lifting previous economic sanctions, although Mali remained suspended from the bloc’s main bodies.

ECOWAS did not immediately impose sanctions after the second coup, but in November chose to take targeted measures against military personnel due to perceived delays in election preparations.

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