Mali Junta Slams Tough ECOWAS Sanctions As 'Illegitimate'

Mali's military regime has strongly condemned West African sanctions, including border closures and a trade embargo, introduced in response to delays to a return to civilian rule. RFI reports that leaders of the Western African regional bloc, ECOWAS, imposed sanctions on Mali on Sunday January 9, 2022 after the government announced a long delay to elections which had originally been planned for February 2022. The bloc agreed to cut financial aid and freeze Mali's assets at the Central Bank of West African States. They also decided to recall their ambassadors to Mali.

A proposal by Mali's military rulers to hold elections in December 2026 "simply means that an illegitimate military transition government will take the Malian people hostage during the next five years", ECOWAS said.

In response, the military government said that it was closing its land and air borders with ECOWAS countries and also recalling its ambassadors from member states. In a televised statement, the junta's spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said that it "strongly condemned these illegal and illegitimate sanctions".

ECOWAS has been calling for a return to civilian rule in Mali since a group of army officers, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, overthrew President Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

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