By John Ikani
Mali’s military regime has strongly condemned West African sanctions, including border closures and a trade embargo, introduced in response to delays to a return to civilian rule.
Leaders of the Western African regional bloc, ECOWAS, imposed sanctions on Mali on Sunday after the Government announced a long delay to the elections originally planned for February.
Meeting in the Ghanaian capital Accra, they agreed to cut financial aid and freeze Mali’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States.
They also decided to recall their ambassadors to Mali.
A proposal by Mali’s military rulers to hold elections in December 2026 “simply means that an illegitimate military transition government will take the Malian people hostage during the next five years”, said Ecowas.
Responding, the military regime’s spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, in a statement read on national television Monday, announced the recall of Bamako’s ambassadors to the West African nations involved and the closure of air and land borders with them.
“The government of Mali strongly condemns these illegal and illegitimate sanctions,” said the junta’s statement.
It accused ECOWAS and UEMOA of being “exploited by extra-regional powers with ulterior motives,” an apparent reference to Mali’s partners engaged militarily in the Sahel such as France, which has thousands of troops battling a jihadist insurgency.
The junta said it “deplores the inhuman nature of these measures which affect populations already severely affected by the security crisis and the health crisis.”
Faced with the West African embargo, the junta said it had made arrangements to ensure normal supplies “by all appropriate means” and called on the population to remain calm.