The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) yesterday lifted the sanctions imposed on Mali in the wake of an August 18, 2020, military coup, citing Mali’s “notable advances towards constitutional normalisation” as the reason for the relaxation of the sanctions.

The regional bloc announced the lifting of the sanctions in a statement by Chairman of ECOWAS Authority and President of Ghana Nana Kuffo Addo.

The lifting of the sanctions comes two days after the West African nation’s new government named veteran politician Moctar Ouane, a civilian and former foreign minister, as prime minister.

ECOWAS had made it clear they would only consider lifting sanctions if a civilian was given the post of prime minister.

The bloc also yesterday called on the interim government to release all military and civilian officials arrested during the August 18 coup to unseat former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his government.

ECOWAS further requested the dissolution of the military junta, the self-titled National Committee for the People’s Salvation (CNSP), which led the coup, according to the statement.
Mali’s interim government is headed by transitional President, Bah N’Daw, who served as defence minister from 2014 to 2015 and held several other military positions, with the junta’s leader, Assimi Goita, as vice president.
At least four central cabinet posts – defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation – went to colonels in the army, according to a decree read live on state television by the president’s secretary-general Sekou Traore.

One of the junta’s leaders, Colonel Sadio Camara, becomes defence minister, while Colonel Modibo Kone gets the security and civil protection portfolio.

The transitional government is expected to hold elections within 18 months.

Junta spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague, who broke the news of the coup in a dramatic night-time television broadcast, will become national reconciliation minister.

But civilians were also appointed, including former prosecutor Mohamed Sidda Dicko as justice minister and former ambassador Zeini Moulaye as foreign affairs minister.

The coup came after months of protests over the country’s bloody jihadist insurgency, economic struggles and chronic inter-ethnic violence.