| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Mali files lawsuit against “illegal” West African monetary sanctions

Mali has filed a court case to have sanctions imposed by West Africa’s monetary union repealed, according to attorneys for the country’s governing military junta on Monday, as it confronts a financial crisis that threatens to devastate the economy.

The UEMOA, an eight-nation regional monetary body, advised all financial institutions under its jurisdiction on Jan. 9 to suspend Mali with immediate effect after the junta, which deposed the president in a coup in 2020, broke a pledge to organize early elections.

The UEMOA move cut Mali off from regional financial markets, and it coincided with sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which froze Malian state assets, blocked borders, and stopped non-essential financial operations.

The junta’s lawyers said they filed two complaints on Feb. 15 with the UEMOA Court of Justice, the first seeking a repeal of the UEMOA sanctions and the second the suspension of their implementation due to the negative impact on the population.

In a statement, the lawyers referred without explanation to the sanctions’ “absolute illegality”.

Officials at UEMOA, which Mali had earlier this month already asked to lift the sanctions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mali has defaulted on more than 54 billion CFA francs ($93 million) in loan payments since January due to sanctions, and workers are starting to feel the squeeze as mass lay-offs take hold.

The junta is also facing the prospect of losing the support of the French forces that have since 2013 coordinated a multinational mission battling an Islamist insurgency in Mali and the wider Sahel region.

Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated since the junta extended its hold on power, and France said last week it would pull its forces out of the country.

The junta’s use of Russian private military contractors has also angered other European countries involved in the French-led and other military missions.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who chairs the African Union, said on Monday that European troops were still needed in Mali.

Sall spoke in Dakar during a visit by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said Germany would take regional security experts’ opinions into consideration when it made a decision in the coming months on whether to stay or withdraw.

  • Reuters