The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, have disclosed that they would be recalling their ambassadors from Republic of Mali, and impose additional sanctions on the military junta in the country.
Aside from recalling all ECOWAS ambassadors from the country, the leaders also said that they would be closing land and air borders between the ECOWAS member states and Mali to further drive home the point that the regional block henceforth not accept forceful takeover of government.
The body also imposed additional sanctions on the junta, including the following, suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali, with the exception of the following products: essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19 products, and electricity
Others are freezing of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks; freezing of assets of the Malian State and the State Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks, and suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from financial institutions.
The regional leaders reached the resolution at the Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, Ghana, yesterday, adding that more stringent santions would also be imposed on the country to achieve it aim of return to democratic rule.
Giving details of the meeting, Buhari, who was represented at the summit by his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said that with its latest stand against unconstitutional seizure of power, ECOWAS leaders have shown strong resolve and commitment to issues of good governance and democracy in the sub-region.
Speaking to journalists after the summit, Osinbajo said: “what is being done is unprecedented. In the years gone by, the African Union, then known as OAU and ECOWAS, never came down heavily on Coups de’tats; but there is evidence now that there is a very strong resolve that ECOWAS and, indeed, AU and the international community will not accept unconstitutional take over of government.”
Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said, “it’s very evident that there is very strong resolve, which is why we are here today. We expect that the actions that will be taken will point the junta in Mali in the right direction.”
“I think ECOWAS has shown that it has not lost its bite where there are concerns about issues of good governance and democratic enterprises in the sub-region, which is why sanctions against Guinea and Mali were imposed.”
After reviewing the situation in Mali at the Extraordinary Summit, the sub-regional leaders rejected the transition schedule proposed by the Malian military junta, noting that “the proposed chronogram for a transition is totally unacceptable”.
Earlier in his remarks at the opening session of the summit, ECOWAS Chairman, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, praised the commitment and support of West African leaders to the progress and prosperity of the sub-region.
Recalling the efforts of the leaders in resolving the crisis in parts of the sub-region, President Akufo-Addo said, “as you did through the entire year of 2021, you continue to demonstrate your commitment to responding to urgent and critical evolving situations in the region.
“This is the 6th Extraordinary Summit since I assumed the chair of the Authority that Your Excellencies have participated in concerning the vexed issues of Mali and Guinea. It is a strong testimony to your leadership and concern to the progress of ECOWAS.”
Aside from Osinbajo and the Ghanaian President – who presided at the Summit, other West African leaders present at the Summit were Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal; George Weah of Liberia; Patrice Talon of Benin Republic; Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire.
Other Heads of State present include Umaro Embalò of the Republic of Guinea Bissau; Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic; Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, and the Vice President of The Gambia, Isatou Touray.
The session was also attended by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the ECOWAS Mediator for Mali; the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; among other representatives of international organisations.