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West African bloc hits Mali with economic sanctions

Randy Mancini 9 Jan 9
FILE PHOTO: Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of Malian military junta, attends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra
FILE PHOTO: Colonel Assimi Goita, leader of Malian military junta, attends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) consultative meeting in Accra, Ghana September 15, 2020. REUTERS/ Francis Kokoroko

January 9, 2022

By Christian Akorlie

ACCRA (Reuters) -West Africa’s main regional bloc on Sunday agreed to close borders with Mali and impose sweeping economic sanctions in response to “unacceptable” delays holding promised elections after a 2020 military coup.

The decision followed a summit of leaders of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discuss a proposal from Mali’s transitional authorities to hold elections in December 2025 instead of next month as originally agreed.

In a communique ECOWAS said it found the proposed timetable for a transition totally unacceptable.

This timetable “simply means that an illegitimate military transition Government will take the Malian people hostage,” it said.

The 15-member bloc said it had agreed to impose additional sanctions with immediate effect, including the closure of members’ land and air borders with Mali, the suspension of non-essential financial transactions, and the freezing of Malian state assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks.

There was no immediate response from the Malian authorities.

(Writing by Alessandra PrenticeEditing by Raissa Kasolowsky)