West African leaders on Saturday upheld sanctions against Mali’s transitional government
Mali’s military government will lead the country for a two-year transition period before returning to democratic rule, junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita announced late Monday in a decree.
Mali has witnessed two subsequent coups, in August 2020 and May 2021.
The junta had initially promised to hold elections in February this year, but later changed its mind, saying they would be held in 2026 — a move which was rejected by regional bloc the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In April, Goita’s government said no elections would be conducted until 2024, which would prolong their time in power to nearly four years.
“The duration of the transition is set at 24 months, starting on March 26, 2022,” Goita said in Monday’s decree.
This is in accordance with Article 22 of the law revising the Charter of the Transition, it said.
In January, ECOWAS imposed sanctions on Mali, including closing its land and air borders with other countries in the bloc for delaying to restore democratic rule.
West African heads of state meeting in Ghana last Saturday in a bid to find a solution to the political situations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea were reportedly divided on the next set of punishments for the three countries, as coup leaders there maintained that it will take years before holding fresh elections.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said any decision to be taken by the bloc on the political situations in the three countries must consider the victims of unconstitutional changes of government and the adverse consequences of isolating them.
The three nations are currently suspended from the 15-nation body.
The ECOWAS leaders decided to uphold sanctions against Mali.
In a statement, they said they would continue to engage the junta in Bamako “with a view to reaching an agreement to ensure a gradual lifting of the sanctions.”
The leaders agreed to meet again on July 3 to determine whether further sanctions will be imposed on the three member states, according to the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.
The leaders again asked Mali to review its duration of the transition. ECOWAS has said the army must leave power within a maximum period of 16 months, which it considers to be reasonable.
The bloc also demanded that Burkina Faso and Guinea’s junta leaders come up with “an acceptable transition timetable.” Both military leaders had planned to hold onto power for three years.
West Africa has witnessed successive military coups in the past two years.
The two coups in Mali were followed by one in Guinea in September 2021 and another in Burkina Faso in January 2022.