large-scale protests against ECOWAS sanctions (VIDEO) – RT in French
Many Malians in Bamako and across the country demonstrated at the call of their government against West African sanctions to deal with international pressure which does not abate, AFP noted.
On January 14, Malians responded to mobilizations to protest against sanctions against the country.
Thousands of Malians dressed in the national colors of green, yellow and red gathered in the capital Bamako on Independence Square for the weekly prayer, opening an afternoon of mobilization orchestrated by the Malian government.
Some demonstrators spent the night on the boulevard serving this hotspot for Malian demonstrations.
Large crowds also in Timbuktu, on Sankoré Square, in front of the mosque, several Tombouctiens told AFP.
Images posted on social media show a dense crowd marching behind the national flag in the streets of Kadiolo, bordering Côte d’Ivoire. Similar scene to Bougouni, also in the south.
Malians interviewed by an AFP correspondent said they took to the streets to defend the country.
At the same time, the transitional president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, validated a government “response plan” to West African sanctions, his services posted on Facebook. The plan has several components, diplomatic or economic, they write without further details.
“The objective of this plan is not to be in a standoff position” with West African organizations, and Mali remains “open to dialogue”, they assure.
The Malian government launched on January 10, the day after the “extreme” retaliatory measures, according to it, taken by the organization of West African states, ECOWAS, a call “for a general mobilization throughout the national territory”. .
Colonel Assimi Goïta, brought to the head of Mali by a first coup d’etat in August 2020 and enthroned president “of the transition” following a second in May 2021, urged Malians to “defend [leur] country”.
A country on the verge of asphyxiation
Mali, already plunged into a serious security and political crisis since the outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in 2012, has been facing heavy sanctions from ECOWAS since January 9. These punish the military’s plan to continue to govern for several years, and the revoked commitment to organize elections in February 2022 that would have brought civilians back to the head of the country.
The closure of the ECOWAS borders, the embargo on trade (excluding basic necessities) and on financial transactions as well as the freezing of Malian assets in West African banks are dangerously threatening the economy of a country among the poorest in the world, hit by violence and the pandemic, landlocked and heavily dependent on the West African ports of Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.
West African companies as well as Air France have suspended their flights to Bamako. The country risks suffocation due to lack of liquidity. Mali was unable to carry out an operation on the regional financial market on January 12. It is “cut off from the rest of the world,” says Kako Nubukpo, commissioner for the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
The sanctions have sparked a concert of condemnation in Mali. The ECOWAS is accused of being the instrument of foreign powers and an outdated club of leaders cut off from the populations.
An internationally isolated country
The Malian government is wrapped in national sovereignty. He asked for up to five more years and said he was currently unable to call Malians to the polls, citing persistent insecurity in a territory two-thirds of which was beyond the control of the authorities. He asks for the time to carry out essential reforms according to him and to organize indisputable elections.
No significant voice was raised in Mali to approve the ECOWAS. On the other hand, a certain number are pressing for a resumption of discussions with the organization, worrying about the international isolation of Mali.
Colonel Assimi Goïta assured to remain “open to dialogue with ECOWAS”.
UN chief Antonio Guterres on January 13 demanded from the Malian government an “acceptable” electoral calendar, recalling that ECOWAS could then gradually lift the sanctions.
Mali’s partners as important as France and the United States have supported the West African sanctions. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell indicated on January 13 that the EU was going to take measures “in the same line” as ECOWAS.
No way out of the crisis is discernible for the moment. The UN secretary general said he was working with ECOWAS and the African Union to create the conditions for a return of the Malian government to a “reasonable and acceptable” position.