The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will not lift economic sanctions it slammed on Mali following a coup five weeks ago, the bloc said on Friday.
ECOWAS had imposed strict sanctions, which aralysed the landlocked country’s economy, after the Aug. 18 coup that overthrew Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as president.
The 15-member regional bloc said the blockade will be lifted after a civilian prime minister has been nominated.
The sanctions “will be lifted when a civilian prime minister is named”, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said on Friday.
The announcement came shortly after Mali’s new president, Colonel Bah N’Daou (retd), was sworn in at a ceremony in the capital Bamako
N’Daou, a former defence minister, was picked by the coup leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to head a transitional government until elections are held.
The elections are expected to hold in 18 months.
N’daou, 70, took the oath of office in front of several hundred military officers, political leaders and diplomats. Col Goita was sworn in as vice president during a ceremony in the capital Bamako.
Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, the new president said: “The charter is my guidebook.
“Mali has given me everything. I am happy to be its submissive slave, willing to do everything for it to return to full constitutional legality, with elected authorities, legitimate representatives.
“The transition period which begins will not dispute any international undertaking by Mali, nor the agreements signed by the government.”
N’daou, who also served as defence minister in 2014 and previously headed the air force, has been described by former colleagues as “principled”.
In his inaugural address, he said he would crack down on graft, one of the main complaints against Keita’s government, and stamp out abuses of civilians by the armed forces.
Besides fearing that the coup could undermine their own power, presidents in the wider Sahel region are concerned prolonged uncertainty could jeopardise a joint campaign against Islamist militants centred in northern and central Mali.
A previous coup in Mali in 2012 helped hasten the fall of the desert north to al Qaeda-linked militants, forcing a French intervention the following year to drive them back.