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ECOWAS sanctions against Mali a win for terrorists – Adib Saani

A security analyst, Adib Saani, has expressed disappointment about the new sanctions imposed on the West African country, Mali, by the Economic Community of West African States, adding that it gives more room for terrorists to thrive.

ECOWAS announced that it will close borders with Mali and impose sweeping economic sanctions in response to delays holding promised elections after a 2020 military coup.

This was announced on Sunday after an extraordinary summit of the leaders of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Accra.

The meeting was to discuss a proposal from Mali’s transitional authorities to hold elections in December 2025 instead of next month as originally agreed.

Reacting to this, Adib Saani, who is the Executive Director of Jatikay Centre for Human Security and Peace Building, said this new move will rather embolden the activities of terrorists in the country.

“The Malian junta has in recent months been desperately fighting to preserve the existence of the Malian society against terrorists. The situation is so sticky to the extent that, they sought the services of Wagner, an alleged Russian mercenary group. This obviously didn’t go down well with the French and other western countries who already have long-standing differences from the Russian.

“The new sanctions imposed by ECOWAS would invariably weaken the Malian regime and that could strengthen the terrorists and other militant groups in the area. A land and air embargo would negatively impact the anti-terrorism drive. This could pose a big threat to the security of Mali and a bigger threat to the sub-region. Hence, we will be creating a larger problem in an attempt to solve a problem,” he said in a statement made available to GhanaWeb.

Adib Saani further explained that with the current situation in Mali, he doubts it would be an appropriate time for the ECOWAs to be pushing for a free and fair election in the country.

“According to a 2019 country report on Malian by the Bureau of Counterterrorism, terrorist activities increased in quantity and lethality in 2019 and continued to target civilians, Mali’s Armed Forces (FAMa), international peacekeepers, and international military forces. Terrorist groups active in Mali include ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) and JNIM – the umbrella group formed by the Sahara Branch of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, al‑Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front. Attacks continue to be a daily ritual.

“I doubt Mali is ready to hold free, fair, credible elections in such an insecure security atmosphere. But it appears ECOWAS just wants election oblivion of the quality,” he said.

Saani further said that the new plan Mali has seemed too long and is hopeful that ECOWAS can mount soft pressure on the country so that together, they can come to a middle ground on how to make better this situation.

“5 years is too much but with soft pressure, the timeline could be revised and the right structures put in place for a progressive election to be conducted,” he said.



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