African Union lifts post-coup suspension of Mali

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - FEBRUARY 09: A view from opening session of the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020. This year the summit convened with the theme of 'Silencing the Guns by 2020', which includes economic, social and security issues in Africa. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – FEBRUARY 09: A view from opening session of the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020. This year the summit convened with the theme of ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’, which includes economic, social and security issues in Africa. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The African Union on Friday lifted its suspension of Mali which went into effect after a military coup toppled the West African nation’s government in August.

The decision comes three days after the West African regional bloc ECOWAS announced it was ending its tough post-coup sanctions on Mali, saying it wished to back the country’s return to civilian rule.

The sanctions included border closures and a ban on commercial trade and financial flows but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

“The Peace and Security Council, in view of recent positive political developments, has decided to lift the suspension it had imposed against Mali,” the AU’s 15-member security body said in a post on Twitter.

The 55-nation AU quickly condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” after president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was forced out in August by mutineering soldiers following mass protests.

The coup was bloodless but triggered widespread alarm among Mali’s neighbours.

This year’s coup came after months of protests over the country’s bloody jihadist insurgency, economic struggles, and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

Under pressure from tough ECOWAS sanctions, Mali’s junta endorsed a “charter” to restore civilian rule within 18 months and appointed a committee that chose 70-year-old retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president.

On Monday Ndaw appointed a government, headed by former foreign minister Moctar Ouane, in which junta members were given key positions.