ECOWAS slams travel ban, assets freeze on Mali junta

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has announced a range of tough sanctions, including a travel ban and assets freeze, on the ruling junta in Mali, after an apparently-orchestrated pro-junta demonstration scuttled a mission to Bamako by a high-level delegation of the regional bloc on Thursday.

The sanctions, which will take effect from Monday if the junta fails to restore constitutional rule in Mali, are in addition to the earlier suspension of Mali from the 15-member body, according to a communique issued after an emergency mini-summit of the regional bloc in the Ivorian city of Abidjan on Thursday.

The measures include the freezing of the assets of junta members and their associates in ECOWAS member states, freezing of Mali's accounts at the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), freezing of all financial assistance to Mali, travel ban on  all junta members and the recall of all ECOWAS Ambassadors accredited to Mali, said the communique which was released by ECOWAS on Friday night.

Others sanctions include closure of all borders of ECOWAS member states with Mali, denial of Mali's access to seaports of ECOWAS member states and suspension of Mali's participation from all sporting and cultural events in ECOWAS space.

"Furthermore, Authority invites the African Union to reinforce its own sanctions against the (junta) and its associates, and to bring the ECOWAS sanctions to the attention of the Secretary-General of the United Nations," it said.

PANA recalls that the emergency mini-summit was called after the one-day visit of the ECOWAS high-level delegation to Mali was cancelled over a "security scare".

Ahead of the visit, demonstrators backing the putschists besieged the airport in Bamako where the delegation had been scheduled to land, contrary to the commitment made by the junta.

The delegation comprises six West African leaders, who were asked to meet with the junta - following Tuesday's extraordinary summit of ECOWAS in the Ivorian capital - to reinforce the regional drive to restore constitutional order in Mali.

The delegation is led by ECOWAS Chairman and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, and includes the Presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria.

However, a seven-member delegation of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff, led by its Chairman, the Chief of Defence Staff of Cote d'Ivoire, Gen. Soumaila Bagayoko, met with the junta in Bamako.
-0- PANA SEG/MA 31March2012

31 mars 2012 09:49:51

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