ECOWAS leaders have imposed harsher sanctions on Mali after their meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
The new sanctions include the withdrawal of all ECOWAS ambassadors in Mali and closure of land and air borders between Ecowas countries and Mali.
Other sanctions include the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Mali, with exception of essential consumer goods, pharmaceutical products , medical supplies and equipment including materials for the control of Covid-19, petroleum products and electricity.
The ECOWAS leaders have also decided to freeze the assets of Mali at ECOWAS central banks and also suspend financial assistance to Mali.
These actions were taken by the West African leaders in an attempt to force the military to revise its timetable towards returning the country to constitutional rule.
Just before Sunday’s meeting Mali’s military rulers revised their earlier request for a five year transition period to four years.
In a letter to the chair of ECOWAS, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the coup leaders said they can work towards elections within four years.
Mali’s military leaders carried out a coup in August 2020, deposing then president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
A transition team led by the military has been ruling the country since then and was given a deadline of February 2022 to hold fresh elections.
But the military junta headed by current President Assimi Goita proposed holding elections only in five years time – 2026.
The transitional government said the delay in holding elections is due to state of insecurity in Mali, making it impossible to hold elections this year.
A coalition of major political parties in Mali has already released a letter rejecting the earlier five-year plan by the soldiers.
ECOWAS leaders said they will only lift these latest sanctions once Mali’s military leaders agree on a better time table towards returning it to civilian rule.