Mali’s military-dominated government on Monday condemned the strict sanctions imposed on it by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), describing it as “illegal”.
“The government of Mali strongly condemns these illegal and illegitimate sanctions,” the military spokesperson, Abdoulaye Maiga, said in a televised statement.
“On the basis of reciprocity, Mali has decided to recall its ambassadors and close its land and air borders with the states concerned,” he added.
ECOWAS countries on Sunday ordered the withdrawal of its ambassadors in Mali, closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali.
The sanctions also include the freezing of Mali’s assets in the ECOWAS Central Bank and the suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from financial institutions.
But the interim authority said “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 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.
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.
ECOWAS, in turn, threatened the Malian military authorities with sanctions.
However, Mali has experienced two military coups within the past two years.
In August 2020, a group of Malian soldiers started a mutiny at the Kati military base near Bamako.
Insurgents kidnapped several ministers and high-ranking military officials, including the 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.