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ECOWAS imposes fresh sanctions on Mali, Guinea

The West African regional grouping ECOWAS on Sunday hardened its stance against military-ruled Mali and Guinea, imposing new individual sanctions and calling on both countries to honour timetables for a return to democracy.

The Economic Community of West African States “has decided to sanction all those implicated in the delay” in organising elections set for February 27 in Mali, ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said after a summit of the 15-nation group in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

He said Mali had “officially written” to Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who holds the rotating presidency of ECOWAS, to inform him that the Sahel country could not hold elections as planned.

“All the transition authorities are concerned by the sanctions which will take immediate effect,” Brou said, adding the travel bans and assets freezes targeted family members as well.

In a final declaration following Sunday’s summit, ECOWAS said it “highly deplores the lack of progress” towards staging elections in Mali.

The situation has raised concerns internationally, prompting a UN Security Council delegation to Mali late last month.

Council members “reiterated their call for the Malian transitional authorities to achieve… the handover of power to democratically elected civilian authorities within the agreed timeline,” the officials said in a statement.

Mali’s junta expelled the ECOWAS special envoy Hamidou Boly from the country on October 26, declaring him “persona non grata”.

On Sunday, ECOWAS condemned the expulsion.

As for Guinea, where soldiers seized power on September 5, ECOWAS decided to uphold the country’s suspension from the bloc as well as sanctions against individual junta members and their families.

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