WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The United States supports the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) sanctions against Mali’s military authorities, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.”We share ECOWAS’s deep disappointment with the transition government of Mali’s lack of action or progress toward organizing elections, as it committed to do following the August 2020 coup d’état,” Price said on Monday. “We support ECOWAS’s decision to impose additional economic and financial sanctions to urge the transition government to keep its pledge to the Malian people to return their country to democracy.”On Sunday, Radio France Internationale reported that ECOWAS countries had imposed tough sanctions against the military authorities of Mali. West African states reportedly decided to freeze Mali’s assets in the Central Bank of West African States, close borders with Mali and suspend trade transactions with the country, with the exception of medical and essential goods. ECOWAS also decided to withdraw member-states’ ambassadors from Mali and to impose sanctions on financial aid.
The Malian authorities called the sanctions illegal and illegitimate. The country’s leadership also stressed that they were not based on any guidelines of the community. In response, the Malian military authorities decided to recall ambassadors to the ECOWAS member states and to close land and air borders with the countries of the organization.
In November 2021, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop announced that presidential and parliamentary elections initially scheduled for early 2022 in Mali would be postponed due to the volatile security situation across the country. ECOWAS, in turn, threatened the Malian military authorities with sanctions.Price also said the United States supports ECOWAS’s concern over the presence of Wagner group forces in Mali, Price said. The defense contractor will divert resources away from the Malian Armed Forces’ fight against terrorism, he added.