A diplomatic standoff began Monday between Mali and its neighbors after the refusal of the Malian army to engage in a political transition. After the announcement of the recall of the ambassadors of ECOWAS member countries in Bamako, the country announced that it had responded to the measure.
The situation is becoming more complicated for Mali with its West African neighbors who have toughened measures against the country which has gone through two military putsch in one year since 2020 and which is not ready to meet the planned electoral calendar for February.
On Monday, Bamako announced that it had recalled its ambassadors in West Africa and the closure of its land and air borders with its neighbors in ECOWAS. In his immediate entourage, only two countries escape the sanction, Algeria and Mauritania which have borders with Mali but are not part of ECOWAS.
“The government of Mali strongly condemns these illegal and illegitimate sanctions” and recalls its ambassadors in ECOWAS countries, says a statement read on national television by the government spokesperson, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga.
“The government of Mali regrets that West African sub-regional organizations are being exploited by extra-regional powers with ulterior motives”, he added, without naming the foreign powers mentioned.
Isolated, Mali was punished once again by its neighbors members of the ECOWAS meeting Sunday in Accra with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (Uémoa), and imposed an embargo on it (except for basic necessities) , froze its assets at the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), cut their aid and recalled their ambassadors.
While the military was to prepare the ground for presidential and legislative elections on February 27 to allow the return of civilians to power, this promise was dropped under the pretext that it was impossible to keep the timetable because of the security threat.
The military junta has proposed to hold elections in 2026, a date deemed “Totally unacceptable” by ECOWAS. She ” simply means that an illegitimate transitional military government will take the Malian people hostage over the next five years ”, estimated the organization.
Since the first putsch of August 2020 and then that of May 2021 which hoisted Colonel Assimi Goïta as president, ECOWAS has vigorously expressed its total rejection, calling for the return of civilians to power and democracy.
Faced with a foreboding of hardening of the measures of the African organization, the Malian soldiers tried to negotiate on Saturday, proposing to reduce the date of their departure from power to 2024, but this proposal was not well received, and translated “The obvious and flagrant lack of political will of the transitional authorities”, according to member countries.
In its neighborhood, Mali, a poor and landlocked country, no longer maintains good relations with any of the 7 border states except Mauritania and Algeria.
Algiers has shown great interest in strengthening ties with Mali during the military junta, and several visits by heads of diplomacy have taken place between the two countries, the last of which only dates from Thursday, January 6, when Abdoulaye Diop, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs went to Algiers to give his Algerian counterpart a letter on behalf of General Assimi Goita.
Shortly before this visit and this letter, the Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani, went to Algiers on December 27 for a 3-day visit.