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France backs ECOWAS sanctions against Mali

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President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that France fully backed sanctions imposed by West Africa’s economic bloc against Mali after its military-dominated government delayed elections after a coup.

“We support this position,” Macron, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters alongside visiting EU Council President Charles Michel.

“We are in complete solidarity with the region and with this very courageous and clear stance” by the Economic Community of West African States, he added.

As well as closing borders and imposing a trade embargo, Mali’s regional neighbours also cut off financial aid and froze the country’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States.

The move followed a proposal by Mali’s interim government last month to stay in power for up to five years before staging elections, despite international demands that it respect a promise to hold elections in February.

Macron said the “unprecedented sanctions” were a sign of “deep condemnation of the behaviour of the military junta” in Mali and its “absolute failure” to respect its commitments.

He vowed that with EU states contributing to a multinational Takuba force to help France’s existing Barkhane operation, the EU would “Europeanise” its approach in the region.

Macron said that the EU was united with a “fully coherent position” on Mali and the “non-respect by the military junta as was agreed” previously by regional powers.

He said that the situation would be discussed this week when EU foreign ministers meet in the French port of Brest, and that another meeting would take place by the end of the month with a view to strengthening European sanctions.

Mali’s relations with its neighbours and partners have steadily deteriorated since a coup led by Colonel Assimi Goita in August 2020 against the country’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Under threat of sanctions, Goita had promised to hold presidential and legislative elections and to restore civilian rule by February 2022.

But he staged a de-facto second coup in May 2021, forcing out an interim civilian government and disrupting the timetable to restore democracy, while declaring himself interim president.

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