Mali on Tuesday (September 6th) asked Lomé for the lifting of sanctions imposed by African organizations after two military coups in two years, arguing the progress made by the junta towards a return of civilians to power.
“One of the major priorities of the transitional government remains the organization of free, transparent and credible elections with a view to the return to a peaceful and secure constitutional order within 24 months” from March 2022, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told a group created by the African Union on Mali in 2020, after the first putsch of the colonels.
The date of a return of civilians to power in this country plagued by jihadist pressure and a serious security and political crisis has given rise since the first coup in August 2020 to two years of confrontation between Mali and on the one hand and its West African neighbors and part of the international community on the other.
The African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali for the first time after the 2020 putsch, then again after a second coup reinforcing the stranglehold of the colonels in May 2021. Tensions eased when the military pledged under pressure to hold elections in February 2024. ECOWAS then lifted severe financial and trade sanctions imposed in January 2022.
A “gradual normalization”
But Mali’s suspension from African organizations remained in effect, as did individual sanctions taken by ECOWAS at the end of 2021 against some 150 members of the junta. “Undeniable progress” carried out by the Malian government plead for the lifting of the suspension of the AU, estimated Mr. Diop.
As for ECOWAS, he hailed a “gradual normalization” while qualifying the sanctions still in force as“impediments”. “The Government of Mali requests the lifting of these measures in order to promote full cooperation with all partners”he said to the follow-up and support group for the transition in Mali.
Since 2021, the Malian authorities have turned away from France and its allies, and turned towards Russia. Relations have also become complicated with the UN mission in Mali (Minusma) or, more recently, the Ivorian neighbor after the arrest in July in Bamako of 49 Ivorian soldiers.
These soldiers were, according to Abidjan and Minusma, to participate in the security of the German contingent of Minusma, according to UN provisions allowing blue helmets to call on external service providers for logistical support. Bamako presented the Ivorians as mercenaries. The junta is itself accused by a number of Western countries of securing the services of Russian mercenaries.
The discourse of regained sovereignty
Germany suspended part of the operations of its contingent within the Minusma in August after several overflight refusals by the Malian authorities. She resumed her rotations after a few days. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock defended German participation in Minusma on Monday before the diplomatic corps in Berlin.
“At the same time, in Mali, we are dependent on a government which, unfortunately, is putting more and more obstacles in our way”she added. “We cannot afford to withdraw at the first difficulty”but “We tell our Malian partners unequivocally what we expect for the safety of our soldiers. And if it doesn’t work out, it’s hard to stay.”she said.
His Malian counterpart once again hammered the speech of recovered sovereignty on Tuesday, and assured that Mali was not isolated. Mali is open “to all partnerships”but “the new Mali will not accept that we can impose agendas, that we can impose our own agenda, our priorities; that they can impose diktats on us”he pointed out.
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