Mali’s junta files lawsuit over ‘absolute illegality’ of West African financial sanctions

Lawyers for the country’s ruling junta said on Monday that Mali has taken legal action to lift sanctions imposed by the West African Monetary Union, as it grapples with a debt crisis that threatens to destroy the economy.

The eight-nation regional monetary authority of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on January 9 asked all financial institutions under its umbrella for immediate financial suspension after the military junta – which ousted the president in a coup in 2020 – reneged on its promise to hold elections early.

The WAEMU action cut off financial access to regional financial markets and was taken in conjunction with the sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which have frozen the country’s financial assets, closed its borders and suspended non-essential financial transactions.

Lawyers for the junta said that they submitted two complaints on February 15 to the Court of Justice of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, the first seeking to cancel the West African Economic and Monetary Union sanctions and the second to suspend their implementation due to the negative impact on the population.

In a statement without explanation, the lawyers noted the “absolute illegality” of the penalties.

Officials with UEMOA, which the master had already requested earlier this month to lift the sanctions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Malias 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 pressure with mass layoffs.

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

Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated since the junta seized power, and France said last week it would withdraw its forces from the country.

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

Senegalese President Macky Sall, who chairs the African Union, said on Monday that Mali was still needed by European forces.

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

(1 dollar = 580.2100 CFA francs)


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