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ECOWAS leaders lift sanctions on Mali, Burkina Faso

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LEADERS of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have lifted economic and financial sanctions placed on Mali after the country’s military rulers suggested a 24-month transition to democratic governance and issued a new electoral law.

The coalition of ECOWAS leaders set rigid sanctions on Mali in January after the military junta said it would not organise democratic elections the next month as originally planned.

President ECOWAS Commission Jean Claude Kassi Brou said the embargo will be raised instantly, paving way for Mali’s borders to reopen. Diplomats will also return to Bamako.

“However, the heads of state decided to maintain individual sanctions, and the suspension of Mali from ECOWAS, until the return to constitutional rule,” Brou said in Accra on Sunday.

Brou said after prolonged dialogue with the coup leaders in Burkina Faso, a new proposal for a 24-month transition was more acceptable after the heads of state refused the 36-month transition.

The conference in Accra also received a pledge from the junta that seized power in Burkina Faso in January to restore constitutional order in 24 months.

Economic and financial sanctions on Burkina Faso were also lifted.

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Due to the sanctions, Mali has defaulted on over $300 million in debt which cut it off from the regional financial market and the central bank.

The West African leaders designated the former President of Benin Boni Yayi as an intermediary and urged the Guinea junta to work with him and quickly propose a new timetable.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo who spoke at the Accra summit called for prompt action as armed groups extend their influence in West Africa.

“These terrorist attacks are now not only focusing on the Sahel but also expanding to the coastal states in our region.

“It is imperative for us to continue to implement our regional action plan against terrorism and to coordinate our various security initiatives,” he said.

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