The head of the ruling military junta in Mali, Asmi Gueta, confirmed his openness to dialogue with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after imposing the most stringent sanctions on his country, due to the transitional authorities’ failure to hold elections next February.
Gueta said – in a speech broadcast on state television – that “even if we regret the illegal, illegal and inhuman nature of certain decisions, Mali remains open to dialogue with ECOWAS, to find a consensus between the highest interests of the Malian people and respect for the fundamental principles of the organization.”
Guetta called on his compatriots to remain calm, and said, “We chose to be honest in order to take our destiny into our own hands by making our own path.”
A number of countries closed their land and air borders with Mali, and airlines from West African countries, in addition to France, canceled their flights to Mali.
Suspending trade and cutting aid
This came after the ECOWAS group imposed, on Sunday, a series of restrictions on Mali, due to the transitional authorities’ failure to hold elections next February, it decided to suspend trade except for basic commodities, cut financial aid, and freeze Mali’s assets in the Central Bank of West African States .
The member states also decided to recall their ambassadors to Mali, which has witnessed two military coups since 2020 and a deep security crisis.
She said that these sanctions will come into force immediately, and will only be lifted gradually when the financial authorities present an “acceptable” timetable and when satisfactory progress is noted in its implementation.
The Economic Community of West African States considers that the proposal of the Military Council of Mali to hold presidential elections in December 2026 is “totally unacceptable”, because it “means that an illegitimate transitional military government will take the Malian people hostage in the coming years.”
These sanctions are more stringent than those imposed after the first coup in August 2020, and in the midst of the pandemic, their impact was clear in this country, which is considered one of the poorest countries in the world and has no outlet to the sea.
The US State Department announced its support for the ECOWAS group’s decision to impose economic and financial sanctions on Mali, to fulfill its pledge to return the country to the path of democracy.