ECOWAS lifts sanctions on Mali
The West African ECOWAS bloc is lifting the harsh sanctions it had imposed against Mali earlier this year.
West African leaders meeting in Ghana on Sunday within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced lifting the trade and financial sanctions on Mali.
The West African bloc had imposed sanctions on Mali over the coup that took place last year despite the military junta pledging to return to civilian rule following reforms.
ECOWAS said it accepted Bamako's March 2024 date for a return to civilian rule.
"It's done!" one participant at the summit of the West African bloc ECOWAS told AFP. "We have decided to lift economic and financial sanctions against Mali."
The leaders of ECOWAS had agreed to cut financial aid and freeze Mali's assets at the Central Bank of West African States.
Earlier, the junta had submitted a proposal to the bloc for a new timeframe for restoring power to civilians, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop announced on the eve of a summit of the group.
In August 2020, army officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita toppled the elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita amid street protests against his rule.
Under threat of sanctions, Goita promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022 after holding presidential and legislative elections.
But he staged a second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government and provoking widespread diplomatic condemnation.
ECOWAS insisted that Mali hold elections in February, but the junta promised it would set an election date only after holding a nationwide conference, arguing a peaceful vote was more important than speed.
The sanctions were received by condemnations from Bamako, with the junta announcing the recall of the country's ambassadors to the West African nations involved, as well as the closure of air and land borders with them.