ECOWAS countries to shut all borders to Mali, impose fresh sanctions

ECOWAS Commission, Abuja office

The Economic Community of West African States will impose additional sanctions on the military junta in Mali, withdraw all ECOWAS Ambassadors in the country, and close land and air borders between the ECOWAS member states and Mali.

This is the outcome of the Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, Ghana, on Sunday, January 9, 2021.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this on Monday in a statement titled, ‘ECOWAS countries to shut all borders against Mali, recall ambassadors, reject junta’s transition schedule’.

After reviewing the situation in Mali at the Extraordinary Summit, the sub-regional leaders also rejected the transition schedule proposed by the Malian military junta, noting that “the proposed chronogram for a transition is unacceptable”.

The bloc also imposed additional sanctions on the junta. They include the withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali, closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali, suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between the ECOWAS Member States and Mali—except essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19 products, and electricity.

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More sanctions include the freeze of the Republic of Mali assets in ECOWAS Central Banks, freeze of assets of the Malian State and the State Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks, and suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from financial institutions.

According to a communique issued after the meeting, the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government “instructs all Community institutions to take steps to implement these sanctions with immediate effect.”

It also noted that the sanctions will only be gradually lifted “after an acceptable and agreed transition chronogram is finalised and monitored-satisfactory progress is realised in the implementation of the chronogram for the elections.”

Speaking after the meeting, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said ECOWAS’s latest stand against unconstitutional seizure of power shows strong resolve and commitment to good governance and democracy issues in the sub-region.

He said, “What is being done is unprecedented. In the years gone by, the African Union, then known as OAU and ECOWAS, never came down heavily on Coup d’états. Still, there is evidence now that there is a very strong resolve that ECOWAS and, indeed, AU and the international community will not accept an unconstitutional takeover.

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“It’s very evident that there is firm resolve, which is why we are here today. We expect that the actions taken will point the junta in Mali in the right direction.

“I think ECOWAS has shown that it has not lost its bite where there are concerns about issues of good governance and democratic enterprises in the sub-region, which is why sanctions against Guinea and Mali were imposed.”

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