The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will close its land and air borders with Mali and impose far-reaching economic sanctions for failure to stick to an agreed transitional election timetable.
The sanctions include the withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali, and the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between member States and the crisis-torn country.
However, the Bloc will allow essential consumer goods – pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19, petroleum products and electricity.
Also, the assets of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks have been frozen, as well as those of the assets of the Malian State and the State Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks.
The West African state, has in addition to previous sanctions, also been suspended from all financial assistance and transactions from all financial institutions in the region.
A communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of the regional grouping in Accra, on Sunday, instructed all Community Institutions to take steps to implement those sanctions, which are to take immediate effect.
It also asked Algeria and Mauritania which are not members of ECOWAS but neighbours of Mali, to support the implementation of the sanctions.
The transition authorities in Mali submitted on January 8, 2022, a new chronogram scheduling the conduct of the presidential elections for the end of December 2022, setting the duration of the transition for some five years.
But the ECOWAS insist that the country stick to the February 27, 2022 election timetable. It said it found the proposed chronogram for a transition totally unacceptable.
“This chronogram simply means that an illegitimate military transition Government will take the Malian people hostage during the next five years,” the bloc said in a communique read by ECOWAS President Jean Claude Kassi Brou at the end of the Accra meeting.
“The Authority reiterates its call for the transition authorities to focus on activities geared towards an expeditious return to constitutional order and to defer key reforms to legitimate elected institutions to be established after the elections.”
The Bloc said the sanctions, which were to facilitate the process of a return to constitutional order in Mali necessary for peace, stability and growth, would be gradually lifted after an acceptable and agreed schedule for the elections is finalised and implemented.
Meanwhile, the bloc has also agreed to immediately activate the ECOWAS Standby Force to be ready for any eventuality in view of the destabilizing security of Malian crisis on the region as a result of the impact of the transition process.
In 2020, Mali’s military toppled President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita and agreed to an 18-month transitional period for elections to be held in February 2022, but they have failed to keep to that arrangement.