ECOWAS may lift Mali sanctions after today’s interim president’s inauguration

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) might lift painful economic sanctions against Mali once an interim president is inaugurated on Friday, the bloc’s envoy Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday.

Jonathan said this after landing in Bamako for talks as head of a delegation from the bloc.

The military in Mali had staged a coup in the country on Aug. 18, a development which ousted President Goodluck Jonathan

Comments suggest the 15-member ECOWAS could accept the candidates picked this week to lead the transition of power, although they do not have the fully civilian background the bloc had demanded.

The easing of sanctions would be a relief for Mali, whose imports have slumped 30 per cent since its neighbours closed borders and halted financial flows after the ouster of Keita.

“I am very happy with what is happening now in Mali.

“The young soldiers who have taken power are doing a job in line with what the (ECOWAS) leaders wanted,” said Jonathan.

It had not previously been clear if ECOWAS would agree with Monday’s nomination of former defence minister and Retired Col. Bah Ndaw as interim president, particularly as the leader of the junta that seized power, Col. Assimi Goita, is set to be vice president.

But Jonathan told reporters: “I hope that after the inauguration of the president on Friday, the sanctions will be lifted.”

International powers feared the coup could further destabilise the country and undermine a joint fight against insurgents there and in the wider Sahel region.

Underscoring the insecurity, three Malian soldiers were killed on Wednesday when militants ambushed their patrol in Mopti region near the border with Burkina Faso, the defence ministry said in a statement.

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