Mali junta rallies prayer warriors against ECOWAS sanctions

Assimi Goita Mali junta leader

Mali Military President Assimi Goita

Head of the Malian junta Assimi Goita, has announced a general mobilisation of all Malians against the sanctions imposed on the country by ECOWAS and the Francophone monetary union, over its democratisation delay.

In November 2021, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop announced that presidential and parliamentary elections initially scheduled for early 2022 in Mali would be postponed due to the volatile security situation across the country.

But ECOWAS felt the postponement of the election was an egregious breach of an agreement.

West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the 15-member ECOWAS, slapped additional sanctions on Mali on Sunday, that turned the country into a pariah.

In his reaction, military president Assimi Goita called an extraordinary session of the Malian Council of Ministers.

The meeting which held Monday ordered religious and customary authorities to organize prayer sessions in places of worship.

In view of the measures taken against the landlocked Member State which has been at war with terrorism for a decade, the Malian government decided to develop a response plan to “safeguard the sovereignty and preserve the integrity of the national territory.”

The transitional government has also asked all its social partners to observe a truce in their demands to allow the country to “face the challenges of the day.”

The government urged Malians to remain “calm and serene” by reassuring them that all measures will be taken to deal with the consequences of the measures imposed by ECOWAS and WAEMU.

Various parties and organisations in Mali on Tuesday condemned the sanctions imposed on the Malian people by WAEMU and ECOWAS.

Algeria and Guinea also announced Monday, in separate press releases, their support for the authorities of Mali and the Malian people after the said sanctions.

The Government of Mali has decided to recall its ambassadors accredited to the Member States of ECOWAS and close its land and air borders with the States concerned, in response to economic sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and WAEMU.

ECOWAS groups 15 countries, including The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), also known for its French acronym UEMOA, are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

At its meeting in Accra on Sunday, ECOWAS imposed far-reaching sanctions on Mali.

The bloc resolved to withdraw all its ambassadors from Mali and close land and air borders between member-countries and Mali.

This resolution was conveyed in a communiqué issued after an Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, Ghana.

The communiqué said that after reviewing the situation, the regional leaders rejected the transition schedule proposed by the Malian military junta as ‘totally unacceptable.’

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ECOWAS also decided on:

“Withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali; closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali.

“Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali, with the exception of the following products: essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19 products, and electricity

“ Freeze of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks; freeze of assets of the Malian state and the state enterprises and parastatals in commercial Banks

“Suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from financial institutions.’’

The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government instructed all community institutions to take steps to implement the sanctions with immediate effect.

It said that the sanctions would only be gradually lifted after an acceptable and agreed transition chronogram was finalised and monitored satisfactory to ensure progress.

In its first reaction, the junta leader condemned the sanctions and recalled its ambassadors to the organisation’s member states.

In a statement by the interim authority, “the Government of the Republic of Mali was astounded to learn about the economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali.

“These measures run counter to the efforts of the government and its readiness to engage in a dialogue with the aim of reaching a compromise with ECOWAS on the timetable for election in Mali.’’

The Malian authorities called the sanctions illegal and illegitimate. The country’s leadership also stressed that they were not based on any guidelines of the community.

“The Government of Mali regrets that West African sub-regional organizations are used by powers outside the region which have ulterior motives,” the statement said.

Mali was running as a democracy until August 2020, when a group of mutinous soldiers at the Kati military base near Bamako, stage a coup.

They kidnapped several ministers and high-ranking military officials, including then-President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, who later dissolved the government and parliament.

In September 2020, the parties agreed on a transition period that would last for 18 months, leading to parliamentary elections and Bah N’Daw, a former defence minister was appointed interim president.

However, in May 2021, Mali saw its second coup, as then-Vice President Assimi Goita ousted the new president and prime minister for allegedly violating the transitional charter.

He was appointed as interim president by the constitutional court and announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held in 2022.

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