By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to withdraw all its ambassadors from Mali and close land and air borders between member-countries and Mali.
This resolution was conveyed in a communiqué issued after an Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Accra, Ghana.
The summit was held on Sunday to discuss the political situation in the Republic of Mali.
The communiqué said that after reviewing the situation, the regional leaders rejected the transition schedule proposed by the Malian military junta as ‘totally unacceptable.’
ECOWAS also imposed additional sanctions on the junta.
“Withdrawal of all ECOWAS Ambassadors in Mali; closure of land and air borders between ECOWAS countries and Mali.
“Suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS Member States and Mali, with the exception of the following products: essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19 products, and electricity
“ Freeze of assets of the Republic of Mali in ECOWAS Central Banks; freeze of assets of the Malian state and the state enterprises and parastatals in commercial Banks
“Suspension of Mali from all financial assistance and transactions from financial institutions.’’
The communiqué also disclosed that the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government instructed all community institutions to take steps to implement the sanctions with immediate effect.
It said that the sanctions would only be gradually lifted after an acceptable and agreed transition chronogram was finalised and monitored satisfactory to ensure progress.
On the situation in Guinea, ECOWAS said it remained concerned about the slow progress of the transition process four months after the coup.
“The Authority regrets the absence of chronogram for the election and the non-setting up of the National Council of Transition (CNT).
“ It also directs that a mission be fielded to Conakry to discuss the transition,” the communiqué said.
Earlier in his remarks at the opening session of the Summit, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Chairman of ECOWAS, praised the commitment and support of West African leaders to the progress and prosperity of the sub-region.
“As you did through the entire year of 2021, you continue to demonstrate your commitment of responding to urgent and critical evolving situations in the region.
“This is the 6th Extraordinary Summit since I assumed the chair of the authority that Your Excellencies have participated in concerning the vexed issues of Mali and Guinea.
“It is strong testimony to your leadership and concern to the progress of ECOWAS,” he said.
Aside Osinbajo and Akufo-Addo, other West African leaders present at the summit were Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal, George Weah of Liberia, Patrice Talon of Benin Republic, Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire.
Other Heads of State present included Umaro Embalò of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, and the Vice President of The Gambia, Isatou Touray.
The summit was also attended by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the ECOWAS Mediator for Mali, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and representatives of international organisations.(NAN)