A senior official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says Mali faces stiff economic and diplomatic sanctions for failing to abide by the regional bloc’s 72-hour deadline, which expires Monday.
Remi Ajibewa, head of political affairs and international cooperation for ECOWAS, dismissed as a publicity stunt the junta’s announcement restoring Mali’s suspended constitution.
Military leader Captain Amadou Sanogo Sunday vowed to return power to civilians but he did not indicate a timeline to organize elections in the West African nation.
Ajibewa said the ECOWAS sanctions will therefore proceed as originally planned.
“This is a deliberate and calculated attempt on the part of the junta,” said Ajibewa.
“He is just saying this to pre-empt the 72-hours that have been the ultimatum. It is only when it is seen and done that we can actually know that he has taken the right step. The things he said [are] just propaganda.”
ECOWAS said it is suspending Mali’s membership from the group and has put its standby military force on high alert to be deployed as the last resort. Ajibewa said the group will Monday begin imposing political and economic sanctions which include:
1) Recalling all of its accredited ambassadors, and a travel ban on members of the junta and their associates within the ECOWAS territory.
2) Closing all borders between ECOWAS member states and Mali, except for humanitarian purposes.
3) Freezing the assets of the leaders of the junta and their associates.
4) Denying Mali access to seaports.
5) Freezing the accounts of Mali held at the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO).
6) Denying the procurement of funds from BCEAO to accounts held by the Malian State in private banks.
7) Freezing all financial assistance to Mali through the West African Bank for Development (BOAD) and the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID).
8) Suspending Mali from participating in all sporting and cultural events in the ECOWAS space.
Ajibewa said both the African Union and the United Nations support the ECOWAS’ efforts to ensure Mali soon returns to constitutional rule.
Ajibewa said ECOWAS is prepared to enter into dialogue with Mali’s military regime with the aim of ensuring an immediate return to constitutional rule.
“We are open to negotiations,” said Ajibewa. “The junta is in contact with the mediator of the Malian crisis. Though the junta has asked for ECOWAS to understand their plight, these are just mere words. We are still insisting on that 72 hours [ultimatum].”
Ajibewa said the mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, will ensure Mali’s military ruler complies with ECOWAS’s demands.
Over the weekend, junta leaders visited Mr. Compaore in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, where they asked for help to combat the Tuareg rebellions. But Compaore rejected the request and urged them to restore constitutional order.
The Tuareg rebels took control of the historic town of Timbuktu Sunday, which was the last major city in the north that was under the military's control.
Ajibewa said the junta miscalculated by overthrowing President Amadou Toumani Toure’s administration.