ECOWAS Imposes Fresh Sanctions on Mali Junta over Delayed Elections

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions on Sunday against Mali’s transitional leaders after they informed the body that the country wouldn’t be able to hold presidential and legislative elections in February.

Mali’s interim government, which took power after the military overthrew Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020, had promised to lead an 18-month transition back to democracy culminating in elections on Feb. 27, 2022.

However, it has only made fitful progress toward organising the vote and has consistently suggested that it may be delayed, partly because of an ongoing insurgency by Islamist militants.

ECOWAS said the interim authorities had informed it “of their inability to meet the February 2022 deadline” following a summit in Ghana.

ECOWAS said it would consider additional sanctions in December if no progress is made regarding the transitional authority’s members and their families, according to the statement.

Following the coup last year, ECOWAS imposed sanctions, including border closures, but lifted them less than two months later when the coup leaders agreed to an 18-month transition.

Colonel Assimi Goita, the leader of the initial coup, staged a second coup in May, ousting the interim president and assuming the presidency himself.

Mali’s transition is viewed as a crucial test of West Africa’s commitment to protecting democracy against a return to the frequent coups that earned the region its reputation as a coup belt after colonialism ended.

In addition to the two coups in Mali, Guinea’s military ousted its longtime leader Alpha Conde in September. ECOWAS appointed Ghanaian diplomat Mohamed Ibn Chambas as its special representative for engagement with Guinea’s transitional government.

Mamadi Doumbouya, who led the coup, has promised to return Guinea to democracy but has not announced when elections will be held. In September, ECOWAS imposed travel bans and asset freezes on the coup leaders.

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