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ECOWAS leaders go tough on Mali, shut borders, recall envoys

Leaders of member states in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday night moved strongly against the Malian military junta, with a resolution to shut borders against the country, as well as recall its Ambassadors.

ECOWAS leaders also agreed to the freezing of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks; freezing of assets of the Malian State and the State Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks, as well of the suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from financial institutions.

This followed the resolution of the ECOWAS leaders at its one-day extraordinary meeting on Sunday where it resolved to strengthen commitments to issues of good governance and democracy in the sub-region, after discussing the political situation in the Republic of Mali.

These resolutions according to the sub-regional group, are part of efforts to enhance its stand against unconstitutional seizure of power.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Sunday in Accra, Ghana, where he represented President Muhammadu Buhari at an Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government to discuss the political situation in the Republic of Mali.

He revealed that “ECOWAS agreed to impose additional sanctions on the military junta in Mali, withdraw all ECOWAS Ambassadors in the country, and also close land and air borders between the ECOWAS Member States and Mali.”

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

“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 d’etats; 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 takeover of government.”

Osinbajo 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.”

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After reviewing the situation in Mali at the Extraordinary Summit, the sub-regional leaders rejected the transition schedule proposed by the Malian military junta, noting that “the proposed chronogram for a transition is totally unacceptable.”

The body also imposed additional sanctions on the junta, including the withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali, closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali;

Others include the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between the 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.”

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, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; among other representatives of international organisations.

In May 2021, the Military led by interim Vice president Assimi Goita, a Colonel, seized power and overthrew President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane

Coita premised the action on what he described as a refusal by the deposed president and prime minister to consult him about a government reshuffle in which two former coup leaders lost their cabinet positions.

Leaders of ECOWAS as part of its efforts to restore peace, appointed former President Goodluck Jonathan in July 2020, as its Special Envoy, to amongst other things, facilitate dialogue with all principal stakeholders in Mali.

All efforts by ECOWAS leaders, France, United States, the European Union and others to prevail on the Military junta against their actions had so far proved abortive.

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