EU to Sanction Mali Junta

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that the European Union will impose sanctions on Mali similar to those taken by the  Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In response to the interim authorities’ failure to hold democratic elections next month as agreed following a military coup in 2020, ECOWAS enacted a raft of restrictions against Mali on Sunday, including the suspension of financial transactions. 

“The risk that the situation in this country deteriorates is evident,” Borrell told reporters after a meeting of EU defence ministers in the western French city of Brest.

The EU move, Borrell said, was also a reaction to the arrival of private military contractors, a group of mostly ex-military personnel from Russia.

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In December, France joined 15 other countries, including several European states, operating in Mali to condemn the possibility of mercenaries arriving in that country. Thousands of French troops are fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel region.

The 27-nation EU imposed sanctions on Wagner in December and established a new sanctions regime for Mali to target the junta.

In a press conference with Borrell, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said, “The new sanctions regime was agreed upon and these discussions will now proceed.”

In a recent statement, French officials claimed that France and its European partners are in consultation on how to proceed and who to sanction. A decision is expected by the end of January.

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More than 1,000 German troops have been deployed to Mali, and the country said it would assess whether the military mission is progressing towards its goals, including democratisation.

The postponement of elections for another five years shows things are moving in the wrong direction, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said, adding that further progress and a solution to the Wagner group issue would be expected if German troops were to remain in Mali.

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