From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

 

The Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), of Authority of Heads of State and Government at the end of its Extraordinary Summit to discuss the political situation in the Republic of Mali, has announced additional severe sanctions against the west african country.

The sanctions came as the body rejected the plans by the military junta to extend the transition period to five years, describing the delay as “totally unacceptable”.

The sanctions contained in a communique, include air and land border closures, recall of member states ambassadors and a trade embargo, cut of financial aid and freezing of Mali’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States.

The body also announced “Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali, with the exception of the following products: essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19 products, and electricity

The communique also disclosed that the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government “instructs all Community institutions to take steps to implement these sanctions with immediate effect.”

Noting that the sanctions will only be gradually lifted “after an acceptable and agreed transition chronogram is finalised and monitored-satisfactory progress is realised in the implementation of the chronogram for the elections.”

In August 2020, members of the Malian military seized power from President Ibrahim Keita. After the coup, the country instituted a political transition with a timeline of 18 months, starting from September 15, 2021.

Bah N’Daw, Mali’s former defence minister, was named president of the country’s new transitional government, while Assimi Goita, leader of the military junta, was named vice-president. They were appointed to oversee the transition period.

But in June 2021, there was another coup led by Goita, who accused the interim president and the then Prime Minister Moctar Ouane of trying to sabotage the country’s transition.

Two days after seizing power from N’Daw, Goita declared himself president.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented Nigeria at the meeting, declared that the regional body will not accept unconstitutional takeover of power, adding that the leaders were resolute in their decision against coup d’états.

According to him, leaders of ECOWAS have shown strong resolve and commitment to issues of good governance and democracy in the sub-region.

He disclosed that there is a strong resolve by ECOWAS Member States to stand against coup d’états in the sub-region.

According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo, speaking to journalists after the Summit, said: “what is being done is unprecedented. In the years gone by, the African Union, then known as OAU and ECOWAS, never came down heavily on Coups de’tats; but there is evidence now that there is a very strong resolve that ECOWAS and, indeed, AU and the international community will not accept unconstitutional take over of government.”

He added said, “it’s very evident that there is very strong resolve, which is why we are here today. We expect that the actions that will be taken will point the junta in Mali in the right direction.

“I think ECOWAS has shown that it has not lost its bite where there are concerns about issues of good governance and democratic enterprises in the sub-region, which is why sanctions against Guinea and Mali were imposed.”

Regarding Guinea, ECOWAS noted that it remained concerned about the slow progress of the transition process four months after the coup.

According to the Communique issued at the end of the meeting, “The Authority regrets the absence of chronogram for the election and the non-setting up of the National Council of Transition (CNT). It also directs that a mission be fielded to Conakry to discuss the transition.”

Earlier in his remarks at the opening session of the Summit, Chairman of ECOWAS, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, praised the commitment and support of West African leaders to the progress and prosperity of the sub-region.

Recalling the efforts of the leaders in resolving the crisis in parts of the sub-region, President Akufo-Addo said, “as you did through the entire year of 2021, you continue to demonstrate your commitment to responding to urgent and critical evolving situations in the region.

“This is the 6th Extraordinary Summit since I assumed the chair of the Authority that Your Excellencies have participated in concerning the vexed issues of Mali and Guinea. It is a strong testimony to your leadership and concern to the progress of ECOWAS.”

Aside from Vice President Osinbajo and the Ghanaian President – who presided at the Summit, other West African leaders present at the Summit were Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal; George Weah of Liberia; Patrice Talon of Benin Republic; Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire.

Other Heads of State present include Umaro Embalò of the Republic of Guinea Bissau; Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic; Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, and the Vice President of The Gambia, Isatou Touray.

The session was also attended by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the ECOWAS Mediator for Mali; the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; among other representatives of international organisations.

 

 

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