ECOWAS issues tighter sanctions on Mali and Guinea

ECOWAS insists that Mali and Guinea should hold democratic election in February [Image: @ecowastradebloc/Twitter]
West Africa—After the recent coup d’état by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya in Guinea on 5 September 2021, it has not escaped anyone’s notice that this officer at the head of the ‘Groupement des Forces Speciales’ (GFS) commanded the same type of military unit as colonel Assimi Fita, who became the leader of Mali transition government after double coup d’état in August 2020 and May 2021.

However, the military leaders in the two countries are under pressure to follow a roadmap for elections after coups in recent years. The sanctions consist of travel bans and asset freezes.

The West African economic bloc (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions against Mali on Sunday after the transitional leaders admitted they would not be able to hold elections by February 2022 deadline.

Military leaders wrote to the economic community of West African States, citing the fighting against an Islamists Insurgency in the north as one reason for the delay.

ECOWAS, made up of 15 countries also stepped up pressure on Guinea’s military leaders after their coup in September.

According to ECOWAS present, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, “the bloc has decided to sanction all those implicated in the delay of the February 27th elections.”

The date had been agreed by Colonel Assimi Goita for an 18-month transition back to democracy after the military overthrew former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.

Instead of progressing towards an election, Goita did the opposite.

In May, he staged a second putsch against the transitional government he had appointed after the August 2020 coup. The African Union suspended Mali as a result.

ECOWAS learned of the failure to meet the deadline after Mali had “officially written” to Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, the bloc’s current rotating leader, Brou said.

He said some sanctions will include travel bans and asset freezes “which will take immediate effect” on all members of the transitional authority.

Brou noted his concern over Mali’s use of Russian mercenaries and reiterated demands for the elections to be held in February.

ECOWAS imposed similar sanctions on Guinea after September 5 coup.

The political and economic grouping, with Nigeria as one of its leading members, has now ordered the unconditional release of longtime Guinea President Alpha Conde.

The 83-year-old, under house arrest, was the first freely elected Guinea president in 2010. He violently represses mass protest during a referendum bid to extend his term as present in 2020.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouyta, who led the putsch against Conde, has since adopted a transition charter4 with a civilian prime minister heading an interim government.

While ECOWAS applauded these efforts, it is demanding Guinea top hold elections in six months.