ECOWAS bloc threatens new sanctions on Mali


Putschist soldiers (L) watch and protect people queuing at a gas station on March 24, 2012 in Bamako, three days after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was forced to flee his palace during an overnight coup.


Habibour Kouyate

The West African 15-nation ECOWAS bloc has threatened to impose new sanctions on officers who launched a coup in Mali in March, accusing them of blocking a return to civilian rule.

ECOWAS imposed heavy sanctions on the country shortly after mid-ranking army officers ousted then-President Amadou Amani Toure, accusing him of failing to effectively tackle a Tuareg-led rebellion in the north.

The bloc lifted the sanctions in April, but in a statement released Monday it accused the junta of continuing to interfere in politics in the West African nation, the BBC reports.

Coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo has objected to interim President Djouncounda Traore – who was sworn in as part of a deal whereby Mali would return to civilian rule – and wants to hold a national convention to appoint a new interim administration once Traore’s term officially ends on May 22. ECOWAS wants Traore to stay on for another year.

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In a statement released Monday, ECOWAS said it had “observed with deep concern the worrying statements and actions emanating from members of the (junta) and their civilian associates in the last few days,” the Associated Press reports.

“Failure on the part of the (junta) and their civilian allies to clearly reaffirm their commitment to the transitional arrangement in the next few days… will be met with the immediate reinstatement of the targeted sanctions,” the statement added.

According to Reuters, Traore’s short time in office has been overshadowed by the military maintaining its grip on much of day-to-day power in Mali and uncertainty over who will take over once his mandate runs out. ECOWAS left the capital, Bamako, at the weekend after five days of failed talks aimed at resolving the crisis.

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