ECOWAS to uphold Mali sanctions until civilian appointed premier

West African states will uphold sanctions on Mali until it appoints a civilian prime minister, the leader of the ECOWAS regional bloc said Friday.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States slapped sanctions on Mali after the August 18 military coup, which toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. 

The sanctions “will be lifted when a civilian prime minister is named,” ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said.

Mali’s neighbours took a hard line after last month’s coup, imposing sanctions in a bid to push the military junta to swiftly restore civilian rule. 

The trade restrictions include a ban commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

Mali’s junta endorsed a roadmap to restoring civilian rule after the coup, and appointed a committee which chose 70-year-old retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president. 

Ndaw, who was sworn into office on Friday, has promised to honour the roadmap — or ‘transition charter’ — and hand over power within 18 months.

Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, 37, was also sworn in as interim vice president. 

The transition charter has never been unveiled, however.

Brou underlined the importance of publishing the document and warned that ECOWAS could not accept that Goita, as vice president, could potentially replace Ndaw. 

ECOWAS’s “prime concern is maintaining constitutional democracy in the region,” he said.