Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has described as unacceptable, the proposed five-year transition period of the Malian transition authority to return the country to constitutional rule instead of the earlier four-year period announced.
It said that the proposed five-year transitional plan would compromised the body’s decision not to allow that country’s illegitimate military authority to take the Malian people hostage.
In a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary session of ECOWAS in Accra, on Sunday, the Authority disapproved of the proposed chronogram of the Malian transition team, and demanded that the military junta stick to the original plan agreed upon on 15th of September 2020.
The ECOWAS Authority reiterated its call for the Malian transition team to “focus on activities geared towards an expeditious return to constitutional rule and defer key reforms to legitimate elected institutions to be established after the elections.”
Following the visit of the Mediator to Mali on 5th January, 2020, the Transition Authority submitted a new chronogram scheduling the conduct of the presidential elections to December, 2022, “setting the duration of the transition for a total of five and-a half years.”
The Communique said that “In view of the above, the Authority decides to uphold the initial sanctions already imposed on Mali and on the transition authorities.”
The previous sanctions imposed on Mali are maintained and in addition, all ECOWAS ambassadors are to be withdrawn from Mali with immediate effect, as well as all air and land borders of ECOWAS member states closed to Mali, among other sanctions.”
The West African body, has also, imposed “additional economic and financial sanctions, in conformity with its deliberations at the 16th-Ordinary Session held on 12 December 2021 in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“These additional sanctions include: the withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali; closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali.”
The suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali with the exception of products which are essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19; petroleum products and electricity.”
Among the imposed sanctions are the Freeze of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks; and Freeze of assets of the Malian state and the state enterprises and parastatals in Commercial Banks; and the Suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from all financial institutions.”
The Authority, has instructed all Community institutions to take steps to implement these sanctions with immediate effect.
The Authority said, “the sanctions will be gradually lifted only after an acceptable and agreed chronogram is finalised and monitored satisfactory progress is realised in the implementation of the chronogram for the elections.
Following the disclosure by the Malian Transition Authority, major political parties in that country had opposed the proposed five-year plan of the transition team to return Mali to civilian rule.
Since August 2020, the military has carried out two coups and postponed elections.
A significant coalition of political parties in Mali rejected the military-led government’s plans for a slow transition to democratic rule. The military authority had said the transition could take up to five years.
Under the transition team’s plan, a constitutional referendum will be held in 2023 and legislative elections in 2025. A presidential election will not take place until 2026. The junta called its proposal “appropriate to conduct the political and institutional reforms.”
The army has been in control of Mali since August 2020. Army carried out two coups and postponed elections that were previously scheduled for next month.
A coalition of 10 parties said the plan is a violation of the transition charter and “has not been discussed in Mali and cannot in any way be the deep desire of the Malian people.”
The coalition said in a statement that it “rejects this unilateral and unreasonable timetable.”
In August 2020, Colonel Assimi Goita overthrew Former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. That coup followed weeks of protests against corruption and Keita’s response to a violent jihadist insurgency.
France and countries bordering Mali forced Goita’s hand to pledge that Mali would return to democratic civilian rule next month following presidential and legislative elections.
Instead of adhering to that transition plan, Goita instead staged another coup in May 2021 which forced out interim civilian leaders and pushed back the transition timeline.
The army said insecurity in northern Mali was the primary driver for postponing elections. The government does not control over half of Mali’s territory.
Various armed groups are jockeying for power, including groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD