Airlines from neighbouring countries and former colonial ruler France cancelled flights to Mali on Monday, helping isolate a military junta under regional sanctions for trying to extend its hold on power.
Ivory Coast’s national carrier Air Cote d’Ivoire halted flights to the Malian capital Bamako on Monday.
Flights from Senegal were also disrupted, according to a Reuters reporter trying to enter Mali.
Air France had also cancelled flights, an airline spokesperson said, because of security risks, without providing further detail.
The head of Mali’s airports, Lassina Togola, said in a statement that Air France flights on Monday were cancelled but not suspended long-term.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Sunday, imposed strict sanctions on Mali over the interim authorities’ failure to hold democratic elections next month as agreed after a 2020 military coup.
ECOWAS countries on Sunday ordered the withdrawal of its ambassadors in Mali, closure of land and air borders between member states and Mali including the suspension of financial transactions.
While reacting to the sanctions, the interim authority had said “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.’’
Assimi Goita, Mali’s current leader and one of several colonels who overthrew President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita in August 2020, called for calm in a statement on Monday, adding that Mali had the means to withstand the latest sanctions.
This is the toughest stance ECOWAS has taken on Mali since it implemented similar measures in the immediate aftermath of President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita’s ouster in August 2020.
The Malian government has promised it will try to ensure a normal supply of goods to the public, but sanctions are likely to further hobble the economy in one of the world’s poorest countries where an Islamist insurgency rages, fuelled in part by widespread poverty.