Journalism of Courage

Just in: West African Court orders suspension of sanctions imposed on Mali

Authorities in Mali have accused ECOWAS of acting the script of former colonial power France, amid strained diplomatic relations between Paris and Bamako.

Ahead of the ECOWAS Extraordinary summit in Ghana on Friday, a West African Court has ordered the suspension of some punitive sanctions imposed on Mali by the eight-nation West African Economic and Monetary Union with the French acronym UEMOA.

UEOMA members, comprising mainly former French colonies in West Africal also belong to the 15-nation regional ECOWAS bloc.

The group uses the common currency, CFA franc, which is tied to the French Treasury.

The members belong to the Central Bank of West Africa, BCEAO, based in Dakar, Senegal.

The group met on January 9 in Accra before an ECOWAS summit to suspend Mali and impose sweeping financial sanctions on the country.

ECOWAS subsequently imposed its own sanctions.

This was after Mali’s Col Assimi Goita-led military dominated interim government delayed its earlier transition programme.

An official of the UEMOA Court told journalists on Thursday that the suspension order would be followed by “details” of the legal decision.

The ruling followed suits filed by the Goita-led junta, which described the UEMOA sanctions as “illegal.”

While ECOWAS sanctions might be different, Thursday’s court ruling could impact decision/s of Friday’s ECOWAS summit, which is expected to review the regional sanctions against Mali and also consider possible compromise on the country’s transition timetable.

Former Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan, the ECOWAS Mediator on the Mali crisis ended his latest mission to Bamako this week without any agreement on the transition programme.

In a climbdown from its earlier tough stance, ECOWAS has invited Goita to the Accra meeting, with developments in Guinea and Burkina Faso also on the summit agenda.

Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso are under military rule in a resurgence of coups and regression of democracy in West Africa.

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Meanwhile, according to official sources Goita has responded to the ECOWAS invitation by saying that he can only participate in the Accra summit by videoconferencing, but would be represented by two cabinet ministers.

No reason was given, but this might be connected with security concerns and mutual mistrust.

A man who attempted to kill Goita with a knife in July 2021, reportedly died in custody during interrogation, according to the government.

Authorities in Mali have accused ECOWAS of acting the script of former colonial power France, amid strained diplomatic relations between Paris and Bamako.

France is pulling out its forces fighting Islamic insurgency from Mali after accusing the Goita regime of contracting the Russian private security agency Wagner for military support.

In apparent retaliation, Mali has expelled the French Ambassador from Bamako and also ordered French media groups RFI and France24 out of Mali.

Critics have accused ECOWAS of inconsistency and ineffectiveness in dealing with threats to democracy in the region, including dubious alteration of national constitutions, electoral frauds and human rights violations, which are partly responsible for political instability and military incursions in politics in some member States.

Also, while the memberships of the three military-controlled States have been suspended, it is believed that the sanctions against Mali are disproportionate.

The military in Guinea has yet to officially announce a transition timetable, while those in Burkina Faso only made public a thee-year transition programme on Tuesday.

ECOWAS, which will be 47 in May, with a good track record in conflict prevention, management and resolution, now faces a tough integrity and existential test on the political crises in Mali and other troubled member States.

 

Paul Ejime files in the report from Abuja

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