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The Court of Justice of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEOMA) on Thursday ordered the suspension of sanctions imposed in January against Mali after the junta failed to fulfill its commitment to return power to civilians soon. This subject is on the program of the extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which will be held Friday afternoon in the capital of Ghana.

Rare success of the junta against regional organizations. A West African court of justice ordered, Thursday, March 24, the suspension of sanctions imposed in January against Mali because of the transgression by the soldiers of their commitment to an early return of civilians to power.

The decision of the Court of Justice of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) adds an unknown factor to the ongoing diplomatic confrontation. It was made on the eve of the summit of another regional organization, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), devoted to Mali.

“Stay of execution” of sanctions

The Uémoa Court of Justice, seized by the lawyers of the Malian State, ordered the “stay of execution” of the sanctions decided on January 9 by the heads of state and government of the member countries of this organization.

WAEMU then suspended Mali from its bodies, endorsed sanctions taken by ECOWAS such as the freezing of the financial assets of around 150 personalities linked to the Malian junta, and above all announced “vigorous additional sanctions including in particular economic and financial”. She had said that she would show solidarity with the retaliatory measures that ECOWAS would subsequently take, of which the UEMOA countries are all members.

In the wake of the UEMOA summit, ECOWAS announced the closure of borders with Mali and suspended financial and commercial exchanges other than those of basic necessities.

The regional organizations were thus cracking down on the plan then displayed by the military to remain at the head of the state for up to five more years, when they had initially committed to organizing elections in February 2022 which would have brought civilians back to the leadership of this country caught in the security and political turmoil since 2012.

The potential impact of these sanctions on a poor, landlocked country has sparked deep concern, but also widespread resentment, beyond Mali, against regional organizations. The Malian authorities have accused ECOWAS of allowing itself to be exploited by France, in the midst of diplomatic tensions between Bamako and Paris.

In mid-February, a group of lawyers mandated by the Malian government had seized the WAEMU Court of Justice with two requests: one to request the cancellation of illegal sanctions according to them, and another to suspend them.

It is on this last request that the Court of Justice ruled while waiting to rule on the merits. The Court notes that it can order a stay of execution in case of “emergency”. The arguments of the State of Mali as to this urgency are “founded insofar as (the) application (of) the sanctions risks leading to consequences that are difficult to repair with regard to the social, economic and financial impact “, she says.

An ECOWAS summit on Friday

The consequences for ECOWAS sanctions were unclear at first. The decision of the Court of Justice should weigh on a new extraordinary summit of ECOWAS scheduled for Friday in Ghana.

ECOWAS has so far conditioned a gradual lifting of its retaliatory measures on the presentation by the authorities of an “acceptable” electoral calendar. The ECOWAS mediator, Goodluck Jonathan, left Mali on Sunday without reaching an agreement with the junta on this point.

ECOWAS has requested the organization of elections within 12 to 16 months. During the visit of the mediator Goodluck Jonathan a few days ago, the government installed by the military itself admitted that the leader of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, had reduced the initial claims to two more years before the holding of elections.

ECOWAS invited Colonel Goïta, who took power by force with other colonels in August 2020 and was sworn in as president following a second putsch in May 2021, to take part in the summit.

But Colonel Goïta will not be able to participate, indicates a letter from Malian Foreign Affairs consulted by AFP. However, he expresses his “availability to interact” with West African leaders by videoconference, says this letter sent to ECOWAS.

Mali will send a delegation of four ministers, including the head of diplomacy, Abdoulaye Diop.

With AFP

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