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West African regional bloc hardens position on Mali, Guinea

The West African regional grouping ECOWAS has announced new individual sanctions on military-ruled Mali and Guinea, while calling on both countries to honour timetables for a return to democracy.

 

Mali had “officially written” to Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, heading the rotating presidency of ECOWAS, to inform him that the Sahel country could not hold elections as planned, he said.

On Sunday, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou announced a decision “to sanction all those implicated in the delay” in organising elections set for February 27 in Mali, he said to AFP during a summit between the 15-nation member countries in Ghana’s capital Accra.

“All the transition authorities are concerned by the sanctions which will take immediate effect,” Brou said, adding that they included travel bans and assets freezes.

ECOWAS initially imposed sanctions and border closures on Mali after last year’s coup, but lifted them months later, after coup leaders agreed to the 18-month transition.

The leader of the initial coup, Malian Colonel Assimi Goita has since led another coup in May, removing the interim president and taking over the position himself.

ECOWAS also decided to uphold Guinea’s suspension from the bloc, as well as maintain sanctions against individual junta members and their families. Soldiers seized power in Guinea on September 5 in a military coup.

The African regional organisation also reiterated its demand for the “unconditional release” of president Alpha Conde, 83, who has been under house arrest since his ousting.

Guinea’s military staged a coup in September removing longtime president Alpha Conde. ECOWAS has since appointed Ghanaian diplomat Mohamed Ibn Chambas as a special envoy to engage with Guinea’s transitional leaders.

At a summit in September, ECOWAS demanded that Guinea hold elections within six months.

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