On November 7, ECOWAS imposed individual sanctions on 149 high-ranking Malian figures. A decision that does not help the image of the West African institution.
These are nearly 150 people which are concerned, in Mali, by sanctions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). On November 7, in Accra, Ghana, the Mediation and Security Council of the African organization met in an extraordinary session to rule on possible sanctions against Malian officials.
Sanctions that do not go to half measures: 149 high-ranking personalities are in fact targeted by the latter. Among them, Prime Minister of the Transition Choguel Kokalla Maïga, as well as almost all of its ministers. In the end, only the head of Malian diplomacy Abdoulaye Diop gets away without sanctions.
If Colonel Assimi Goïta, president of the transition, was spared the “individual sanctions” of ECOWAS, the West African regional organization is attacking the Malian executive as much as the legislative one. Indeed, the members of the National Transition Council (CNT) are also concerned. ECOWAS provides, in terms of individual sanctions, a freezing of financial assets and travel bans. The West African organization also reserves the right to modify its list.
ECOWAS: destruction rather than construction
What motivates ECOWAS to sanction members of the executive and the legislature to such an extent? All the people cited are accused of "preventing the return to institutional order" after the coup d'état against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. ECOWAS "notes the lack of progress in the preparation of the elections" and deplores "the questioning of the essential foundations of ECOWAS".
According to RFI radio, "a list of relatives of those sanctioned is in the process of being drawn up". In other words, a new ECOWAS press release should soon be published with an extended list of people targeted by the freezing of their assets in particular.
The Economic Community of West African States took sanctions against Mali after the first coup in August 2020, but ended up lifting them on condition that the CNT respects a roadmap leading in elections.
Last September, ECOWAS held a conference and asked the transitional authorities to "submit by the end of October 2021 at the latest the timetable leading to the essential steps for the February 2022 elections". Mali immediately indicated that it was "unable" to meet the deadlines. And ECOWAS, if it sanctions, seems unfit to support Mali in this transition.
ECOWAS is therefore hitting hard. Finally, in appearance. If Westerners are generally used to these kinds of threats, the West African organization tries to imitate the international community. Except that, according to several sources close to the CNT, the current members of power do not have, for the most part, any significant assets outside Malian borders.
The Malian people blame ECOWAS
A measure, therefore, very symbolic. And which is more likely to displease the Malian people, who no longer understand the usefulness of ECOWAS. After the organization's first sanctions in 2020, the populations felt taken hostage. Especially since ECOWAS has become the antechamber of many dictatorships, the organization refusing to sanction heads of state violating their respective constitutions to carry out illegal mandates.
Like France, ECOWAS is therefore decried by the Malians. It is not these sanctions that will fix the image of Paris in Mali. Faced with this observation, the West African institution is walking on eggshells: proposing new economic and financial sanctions - through an embargo for example - would sign the end of discussions with Mali. Goïta remains in a strong position today. And the Malian president is trying, at all costs, to upset historic alliances: with France removed, what will the head of the transition of the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS do?