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EU slaps sanctions on five top Mali officials

BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union (EU) on Friday imposed sanctions on five senior members of Mali’s transitional government, including Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, accusing them of working to obstruct and undermine the transition from military to civilian rule.

The move comes days after Mali coup leaders ordered France’s ambassador to leave in what was the latest episode in a growing diplomatic crisis between the impoverished Sahel region country, its African neighbours and European partners. But the sanctions weren’t linked to the expulsion.

Others hit by the EU’s asset freezes and travel bans include members of the inner circle of Colonel Assimi Goita, who put himself in charge last year after dismissing the civilian leaders of Mali’s transitional government. EU citizens and companies are forbidden to grant the five access to funds.

Tensions escalated further, notably with the EU and other international partners, when Goita postponed the next presidential vote by four years, until 2026.

The West African regional group ECOWAS imposed tough economic sanctions in response, and the Europeans are following suit.

Maiga is said by the EU to be “directly responsible for postponing the elections foreseen in the Transition Charter, and he is therefore obstructing and undermining the successful completion of the political transition of Mali”.

In December, the EU also slapped sanctions on eight people and three oil companies linked to the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, which is currently operating in Mali and stands accused of rights abuses in the Central African Republic, Libya and Syria.

Mali’s former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita with French President Emmanuel Macro and French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Gao, Northern Mali. PHOTO: AP
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