By Adedapo Adesanya
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has announced that it has lifted all forms of sanctions imposed on Mali after a military coup in August.
In a statement released today, the West African regional bloc said the heads of state and government have decided to lift sanctions after noting positive steps towards a constitutional government, noting that it has published a roadmap for the transition period.
Business Post had reported that the 15-nation group imposed tough sanctions, including shutting down all land and air borders against one of their own after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was ousted by men of the Malian military following mass protests in the country against the former President.
The coup was bloodless but triggered widespread alarm among Mali’s neighbours.
Historically, a coup in 2012 was followed by an uprising in northern Mali which morphed into a bloody Islamist insurgency, claiming thousands of lives and threatening neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
The ECOWAS sanctions, imposed on August 20, included border closures and a ban on commercial trade and financial flows but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.
Under pressure, Mali’s junta endorsed a charter to restore civilian rule within 18 months and appointed a committee which chose 70-year-old retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president.
Despite this, ECOWAS insisted on the publication of the transition roadmap and warned it could not accept junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who is interim vice president, as Ndaw’s potential replacement.
According to President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, who currently chairs ECOWAS, the bloc has now taken into account notable advances towards constitutional normalisation.
It also called on “all bilateral and multilateral partners to support Mali.”
The communique also called for civilian and military officers detained during the coup to be released and for the junta, which calls itself the National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), to be dissolved.
The statement was issued a day after Mr Ndaw appointed a government, headed by former foreign minister Moctar Ouane, in which junta members occupy key positions.
The charter also sets down the goals of re-establishing security across the nation, two-thirds of which are outside government control; of restoring the state, and of staging general elections.
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