West African states demand Mali polls in February, eye sanctions

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • ECOWAS demanded a Mali vote by February.
  • The bloc suspended Mali following a coup.
  • The military junta seized power in May.

West African leaders meeting at a summit in Nigeria on Sunday demanded military-ruled Mali stick to plans for February polls, threatening further sanctions if Bamako fails to commit to returning to democracy.

"The heads of state... decided to keep the (deadline) of February 27, 2022 for elections in Mali," president of the West African ECOWAS bloc Jean-Claude Brou told reporters in Abuja, adding sanctions would be imposed in January if Mali did not move to stage polls.

READ | Suspected jihadists kill 4 soldiers in Mali: army

The head of Mali's government had earlier on Sunday promised he would provide the bloc with an election timetable by the end of January 2022.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Mali following military coups in August 2020 and May 2021, sanctioning officials deemed responsible for delaying elections and threatening further measures.

Malian procrastination and the possibility of a stronger response from ECOWAS were the main items for discussion among African leaders, along with the situation in Guinea, Covid-19 and economic recovery.


ECOWAS also decided to maintain sanctions against the junta that seized power in Guinea on 5 September, demanding a timetable for the return of civilian rule there.

The head of Mali's transitional government, Colonel Assimi Goita justified postponing the election and holding a national consultation which he said would be "indispensable" for peace and stability.

In a two-page letter to ECOWAS, Goita highlighted the need to "create the conditions for transparent and credible elections", including stepped-up security operations, a new electoral law and the beginning on Saturday of a series of national forums aimed at building a consensus for the return to civilian rule.

Several civil society organisations boycotted the consultations.

Mali's junta has cited persistent insecurity for delaying elections.

Goita said:

The return to constitutional order is and will remain my absolute priority.

The country has been plagued by jihadists and other armed groups, along with violence of self-proclaimed vigilantes and bandits.

Despite the deployment of UN, French and foreign forces, the violence has spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The regular forces are also accused of abuses, and there has been no improvement in Mali's security situation since the military took power.

At a previous summit in November, West African leaders had been informed by Goita that Malian authorities would not be able to respect their earlier commitment to hold elections by February.

ECOWAS has frozen the financial assets and banned from travelling within West Africa all those it deemed guilty of delaying the elections: about 150 people, including the prime minister and almost the entire government, and their families.

Brou did not specify what new measures ECOWAS might take.

After Mali, ECOWAS was confronted in September with its third putsch in a year, with the overthrow in Guinea of President Alpha Conde.

It suspended Guinea and sanctioned the members of the junta, calling for elections to be held within six months.

Guinea's strongman, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, has promised to return power to civilians. But he refuses to be dictated to by a transitional period.

Did you know you can listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nappies, they cost too much
7% - 266 votes
Formula and food, it's getting so expensive
18% - 718 votes
Creche and school fees are a struggle every month
76% - 3104 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.