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ECOWAS leaders reject Mali transition plan, impose harsher sanctions

Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have rejected the five-year transition plan of the Mali Transition Authority which was on the 7th of January 2022, reviewed to a four-year period.

Reading a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary session of ECOWAS Heads of State held at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City today 9th January 2022, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou, said the Community completely disapproves of the proposed chronogram of the Malian transition team and demands that the military junta sticks to the original plan agreed upon on the 15th of September 2020, or propose a more acceptable chronogram for transitioning to democratic rule in Mali.

“The Authority finds the proposed chronogram for a transition totally unacceptable.
“This chronogram simply means that an illegitimate military transition government will take the Malian people hostage during the next five years,” the communique read.

“The Authority reiterates its call for the transition authorities to focus on activities geared towards an expeditious return to constitutional order and to defer key reforms to legitimate elected institutions to be established after the elections,” ECOWAS leaders noted in their communique.

*Harsher Sanctions*

The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State also announced that all previous sanctions imposed on Mali are maintained and in addition, all ECOWAS ambassadors are to be withdrawn from Mali with immediate effect, as well as all air and land borders of ECOWAS member states closed to Mali, among other sanctions.

“In view of the above, the Authority decides to uphold the initial sanctions already imposed on Mali and on the transition authorities”.

“The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State as part of their deliberations also decides to impose additional economic and financial sanctions, in conformity with its deliberations at the Sixtieth Ordinary Session held on 12 December 2021 in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“These additional sanctions include:

a) Withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali;

b) Closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali;

c)Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali, with the exception of the following products: essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19; petroleum products and electricity;

d) Freeze of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks;

e) Freeze of assets of the Malian state and the state enterprises and parastatals in Commercial Banks;

f) Suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from all financial institutions”.

“The Authority instructs all Community institutions to take steps to implement these sanctions which will be implemented with immediate effect”.

“The sanctions will be gradually lifted only after an acceptable and agreed chronogram is finalised and monitored satisfactory progress is realised in the implementation of the chronogram for the elections,” the communique indicated.

*Political parties in Mali*

Following the disclosure by the Malian Transition Authority, major political parties in Mali disagreed to the military government’s five-year plan for transition to civilian rule.

Since August 2020, the military has carried out two coups and postponed elections.

A significant coalition of political parties in Mali rejected the military-led government’s plans for a slow transition to democratic rule. The military plan says the transition could take up to five years.

*Transition plan*

Under its plan, a constitutional referendum would be held in 2023 and legislative elections in 2025. A presidential election would not take place until 2026. The junta called its proposal “appropriate to conduct the political and institutional reforms.”

The army has been in control in Mali since August 2020. In that time, the army has carried out two coups and postponed elections that had previously been scheduled for next month that it had committed to holding.

A coalition of 10 parties said the plan is a violation of the transition charter and “has not been discussed in Mali and cannot in any way be the deep desire of the Malian people.”

The coalition said in a statement that it “rejects this unilateral and unreasonable timetable.”

*Mali 2020 coup*

In August 2020, Colonel Assimi Goita overthrew Former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. That coup followed weeks of protests against corruption and Keita’s response to a violent jihadist insurgency.

France and countries bordering Mali forced Goita’s hand to pledge that Mali would return to democratic civilian rule next month following presidential and legislative elections.

Instead of adhering to that transition plan, Goita instead staged another coup in May 2021 which forced out interim civilian leaders and pushed back the transition timeline.

The army said insecurity in northern Mali was the primary driver for postponing elections. The government does not control over half of Mali’s territory.

Various armed groups are jockeying for power, including groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

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