Mali – Malians took to the streets in droves on Friday after the military junta called for protests against the West African bloc ECOWAS’s harsh sanctions over the country’s postponed elections. Thousands of people dressed in national colors of red, yellow, and green gathered at a central square in Bamako’s capital to sing patriotic songs at a rally organized by the military government.
Choguel Kokalla Maiga, the interim prime minister, spoke to a crowd gathered in a central square, dressed in military uniform. He stated, “Today, the entire continent of Africa is watching Mali.” In some senses, Mali today is playing out Africa’s fate. He also gave “particular thanks” to China and Russia for fighting the “illegal and unconstitutional blockade against our people,” evoking the history of African resistance against colonisers.
According to AFP correspondents in Timbuktu, a sizable crowd had assembled in the northern city. The towns of Kadiolo and Bougouni in the south were also shown on social media to be holding big demonstrations. Last week, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) voted to sanction Mali, imposing a trade embargo and closing borders, a decision that was later backed by the US, the European Union, and former colonial power France.
The action came after Mali’s junta proposed staying in power for up to five years before holding elections, defying international requests that it stick to a February election date. The junta called for protests, describing the sanctions as “severe” and “inhumane.” Colonel Assimi Goita, who originally came to power in August 2020 after a coup, has also urged Malians to “defend our homeland.”