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West African regional leaders impose new sanctions on Mali

ACCRA, GHANA (AP) – West African regional leaders imposed new sanctions on Sunday on Mali, suspending most commerce and financial aid to the country after its military rulers said they would stay in power for four more years instead of holding an election next month as promised.

In a veiled threat at possible military pressure, the regional bloc known as ECOWAS activated its standby force, saying it “will have to be ready for any eventuality”.

The sanctions mark the steepest consequences for Mali to date, and include land and air border closures with other countries belonging to ECOWAS, according to a statement released after a day-long meeting in Ghana’s capital.

The junta led by Colonel Assimi Goita initially had agreed to hold a new election in late February, 18 months after it first seized power. The military leadership now said the next presidential election will take place instead in 2026, giving Goita four more years in power.

Colonel Assimi Goita. PHOTO: AP