In early January, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed strict economic sanctions on Mali, following the decision by the country’s leadership to postpone elections. Mali is currently governed by a military junta that initially came to power after a coup in August of 2020. The faction was acting in response to the instability that has plagued the country since 2012 due to frequent brutal insurgencies linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The junta branded itself a transitional government and promised to stage national elections in February 2022. However, in December, the group announced its intention to push national elections until 2025, citing national security concerns. In response to this proposed delay, Mali’s neighbors and ECOWAS leaders began to impose a set of trade sanctions and halt aid to the country. ECOWAS and EU members have also raised concerns over the transitional authority’s alleged use of Russian private military contractors within Mali. In retaliation to these sanctions, the Mali government has recalled its ambassadors and closed the borders it shares with ECOWAS countries. However, ECOWAS has stated the sanctions will only be lifted if the country’s government puts forth a reasonable timetable for Mali’s return to democratic rule.
By: Ruthie Collett