ECOWAS, the Economic Community for West African States, on Tuesday condemned a military putsch in Mali and pledged a number of retaliatory actions, which include financial sanctions.
This announcement came following the news of the arrest and detention of Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon by rebel soldiers, following weeks of political tension in the country. The dramatic move followed the seizure of an army base near the capital Bamako on Tuesday morning.
ECOWAS, in a statement, pledged to demand sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators” and declared that its members would close land and air borders to Mali.
The 15-nation bloc, of which Mali is a member, also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.
The statement, which was originally published in French, read in part, “ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists”.
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Mali has been in the grip of a deep political impasse since June, with President Keita facing increasingly strident demands for his resignation.
The opposition, which was named the June 5 Movement for the date of its first protest, has been expressing deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and a brutal jihadist conflict. The June 5 movement veered into crisis last month when at least 11 people were killed over three days of unrest that followed a protest.
In an effort to avoid chaos in notoriously unstable Mali, ECOWAS then stepped in to mediate. The bloc suggested the formation of a unity government and other measures late last month, but stuck by Keita.
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However, the June 5 Movement repeatedly turned down compromise proposals, and continued to demand Keita’s departure.
The political opposition declared a new phase of anti-government rallies on Monday.
Keita, 75, along with the Prime Minister, Boubou Cisse, is currently being held by rebel soldiers outside of the capital.