Mali’s military leader open to dialogue with ECOWAS despite “inhumane” sanctions

Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, on August 19, 2020 after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). PHOTO | AFP
Colonel Assimi Goita speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali, on August 19, 2020, after confirming his position as the president of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). /AFP

Mali’s military leader Assimi Goita said on Monday that he remains open to dialogue with the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) regional bloc after it imposed sanctions on Bamako over delayed elections.

“Even if we regret the illegitimate, illegal and inhumane nature of certain decisions, Mali remains open to dialogue with the Economic Community of West African States to find a consensus,” Goita said on state TV after the bloc imposed a trade embargo and border blockade on Mali at a weekend meeting.

ECOWAS leaders also agreed to cut financial aid, freeze Mali’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States, and to recall their ambassadors from the country.

The sanctions followed a proposal from Mali’s army-dominated 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.

ECOWAS also rejected a revised proposal the regime submitted to the bloc on the eve of the weekend summit.

After an earlier wave of sanctions from ECOWAS following the 2020 coup, Goita had promised to restore civilian rule in February 2022 presidential and legislative elections.