Mali – West Africa’s main regional bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) will close their borders with Mali. The members of ECOWAS will also impose economic sanctions on Mali over the delay of elections after a 2020 military coup.
The announcement was made on Sunday after an extraordinary summit of the leaders of the 15-member ECOWAS. The summit took place in the Ghanaian capital Accra. Mali’s authorities presented a proposal to hold elections in December 2025 instead of next month as originally agreed. The members of ECOWAS discussed this proposal during the summit.
A five-year extension of the transition period
The Mali authorities proposed a five-year extension of the transition period for the formation of the new government. ECOWAS’ members said that they found the proposed timetable for a transition unacceptable. They said that the “unilateral and unreasonable” timetable violated the transition charter.
Reportedly, the 15-member bloc said it had agreed to impose additional sanctions with immediate effect in response to delays in holding promised elections. ECOWAS will also close members’ land and air borders with Mali. The members also decided to freeze Malian state assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks. There was no immediate response from the Malian authorities.
The transitional government
The transitional government had initially agreed to hold presidential and legislative elections in February 2022 because of the pressure from West African governments to hold elections. In August 2020, army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita removed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita amid street protests against his unpopular rule.
Earlier, ECOWAS also threatened to impose sanctions on Mali’s ruling military government for postponing the elections. Under threat of sanctions, Assimi Goita subsequently promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections. However, Goita staged a de facto second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government.