May 26, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Defiant Mali junta banks on mass public support to beat Ecowas ban

When the West African bloc Ecowas imposed sanctions on Mali, the country’s junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goïtata, called for mass protests to denounce the blockade. It was a testament to how popular his military revolution has become in Mali.

Bloc leaders imposed tougher sanctions on the landlocked Sahel on January 9 after concluding that the interim government his deadline for holding elections and transferring power to a civilian administration was February 27.

Ecowas ordered its member countries to close their land and air borders with Mali and all trade transactions except of food and medicines.

International support for the sanctions is growing. After a failed attempt, the UN finally reached an agreement last week that supports Ecowas’ position.

Nevertheless, Bamako is unmoved. Authorities sell the Ecowas operation as a proxy war, mainly citing their dispute with France and other Western powers over their approach to the protracted Islamist insurgency in the north and central regions.

And the Malians are buying that narrative , even among those who want a return to democracy.

Interim Prime Minister Choguel Maïga told state broadcaster ORTM this week that Bamako intends to take legal action against the “illegal” sanctions with sub-regional, African and international institutions .

“We don’t close the door on dialogue,” he said, adding: “But what we don’t want is humiliation and a return to slavery.”

After the Malian Backlash, there were reports of a softer tone from Ecowas, which recently reiterated that it stands ready to accompany Mali on its democratic path.

This position was endorsed by ivoris French President Alassane articulates Ouattara, who is seen as defending the interests of France, which the Malian junta and its supporters say are pulling the strings of the bloc.

Regional interests

The Ivorian Leader was quoted as saying at the end of a visit to Gabon last Monday that Ecowa’s leaders need a credible transition timetable to get the sanctions lifted. President Ouattara has always argued that it is unacceptable for a military regime to rule for five years.

“Security is deteriorating, the situation of the population is just as difficult in Mali as in large neighboring countries such as Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. We are just as unhappy as the Malians,” he said.

The January 14 anti-Ecowas demonstrations took place across the country, with the largest gathering taking place in Independence Square in the capital, Bamako. Speakers took turns denouncing Western interference in the country’s sovereignty.

Some high-profile Malians, such as famous musician Salif Keita, took to social media to express their support for the demonstrations. The Golden Voice of Africa, as he is known, said the demonstrations were a message “to show the world and those who want to bring Mali to its knees that we are a proud, dignified and [unified] people.” are”. p>

The Panel of High Personalities, a group of respected Malians, presented the junta with a position paper describing the sanctions as “a real act of aggression” by an organization Mali expected to support. The document contains legal, economic and financial analyzes of the sanctions and recommendations on how to lead the country out of the crisis.

The junta is now making plans to deal with the inevitable effects of the sanctions.On the day of the protests Col Goïta chaired a meeting of the Supreme Council of National Defense to validate the government’s “retaliation plan”.

Government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said the plan included diplomatic, geopolitical, economic, financial and social components .

< h3>Diplomacy

The Malian junta is putting pressure on private sector business interests to counter the effects of the sanctions.

Last week they hired the airlines Ultimatum to communicate their decision on whether to continue flying to the country or risk losing their licenses. It followed the suspension of flights by regional airlines including Air Senegal, Air Cote d’Ivoire and Air Burkina, in line with the Ecowas mandate. Air France also followed suit after France backed Ecowas sanctions.

The junta also uses diplomacy to maintain ties with strategic neighbors and keep goods flowing. This week a government delegation visited Conakry in Guinea and Nouakchott in Mauritania.

Guinea, also under a junta, supports Mali and issued a statement distancing itself from the Ecowas decision. It promised to keep its borders with Mali open. Guinea is one of seven countries bordering Mali. The others are Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Algeria.

Algeria and Mauritania are not Ecowas members. Algeria is reportedly opposed to the sanctions for fear of possible security implications in the region.

Ecowas has reportedly put pressure on Mauritania to support the sanctions. Still, many analysts say there is little incentive to stick to the Ecowas line.

Mali and Mauritania share a border of more than 2,000km, and the port of Nouakchott is one of them Mali’s access routes to the sea. Both countries are members of the G5 Sahel bloc, where they address the same security threats.

For Guinea and Mauritania, opening their borders with Mali means they will benefit from increased trade as the others ” closed” countries are not available. five neighbors.

But for Guinea, this will likely be short-lived because unless it is punished for defying a treaty it has signed, it is threatened with doing so because of its own political crisis Sanctions.

As Ecowas has not provided an election calendar or a transition plan, Ecowas is likely to impose similar sanctions on Guinea four months after the military overthrew President Alpha Conde.