President President George Weah has returned home following successful participation in an Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.
The one-day Summit held Sunday, January 9, 2022, in Accra, Ghana reviewed issues confronting sub-regional peace and security, particularly the political crisis in Mali.
Following long hours of deliberations on the way forward to the debacle in Mali, the Regional Bloc condemned attempts by the military leadership to derail arrangements towards returning the country to democracy and announced additional sanctions on the country.
ECOWAS said in a communique that it regrets the failure of the transition authorities in Mali to take the necessary steps to organize presidential elections before 27 February 2022.
The Regional Bloc asserted that the military's action contrasted the agreement reached on 15 September 2020 and the commitment in the Transition Charter.
The Communique states: “The Authority deeply deplores the obvious and blatant lack of political will from the Transition authorities that led to the absence of any tangible progress in the preparations for the elections, despite the willingness of ECOWAS and all regional and international partners to support Mali in this process."
The ECOWAS Authority says it abhors the new transitional framework by the Military in Mali to hold presidential elections by the end of December 2026, noting. “This will imply a transition period of six and a half (6.5) years.”
“The Authority noted that important stakeholders did not participate in those ANR, thus reflecting a lack of consensus by national stakeholders with regards to the proposed calendar."
ECOWAS maintained the proposed calendar for a transition was unacceptable, and that such action implies that an illegitimate military transition Government will take the Malian people, hostage, during the next five years.
The Authority reiterates its call for the transition authorities to focus on activities geared towards an expeditious return to constitutional order, while at the same time upholds initial sanctions
imposed on Mali and the transition authorities.
Meanwhile, the Authority has announced additional economic and financial sanctions, consonant with its deliberations at its Sixtieth Ordinary Session held on 12 December 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The new sanctions, according to the Communique, include the recall for consultations by the ECOWAS Member States of their Ambassadors accredited to Mali, closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali as well as suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between the ECOWAS Member States and Mali.
Except for food products, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies, and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19, petroleum products, and electricity, the sanctions also target assets of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks are frozen, assets of the Malian State and the State Enterprises and Parastatals in Commercial Banks.
Mali will not access all financial assistance and transactions with all financial institutions, particularly, EBID and BOAD.
ECOWAS has accordingly instructed all Community Institutions to take steps towards implementing these sanctions with immediate effect.
It pledged to review the sanctions given a gradual lifting only after an acceptable and agreed calendar is finalized as well as monitored satisfactory progress is realized in the implementation of the calendar for the elections.
Meanwhile, President Weah was met on arrival at the Airport by an array of government officials led by Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Hon. Nathaniel F. McGill.