West African bloc sanctions Guinea, condemns Mali for detaining Ivorian troops

West Africa’s main political and economic bloc imposed more sanctions on Guinea’s ruling junta on Thursday for failing to set a new timetable for the transition to democracy, the bloc said in a press release.

At an extraordinary summit held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to freeze the financial assets of members of the board and prohibit them from traveling to other countries in the region.

It was unclear who would be affected by the new sanctions as much of the board’s leadership has already been under tight financial and travel restrictions since taking power last year.

“These sanctions were taken with a view to facilitating the process of an early return to constitutional order in Guinea, a prerequisite for peace, stability and development,” the bloc said in a post-summit statement.

The ECOWAS Development Bank said in a late statement on Thursday that it would also suspend funding for Guinean development projects as part of the new sanctions. The bank currently supports at least two energy projects in the country.

ECOWAS first sanctioned Guinea’s military rulers and their families in the days following the September 2021 ouster of President Alpha Conde.

Interim President,Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, proposed a three-year transition timeline in May, which ECOWAS later rejected in early July. They said the coup plotters would face additional sanctions if a new date for early August was not set.

In Thursday’s statement, the regional bloc gave Guinea until October 1, 2022 to establish a “reasonable” schedule, or face additional penalties.

West African leaders also used the summit as an opportunity to condemn the ongoing detention of 46 Ivorian soldiers in Mali who have been held in the capital, Bamako, since July 10 on charges of acting as mercenaries.

Côte d’Ivoire, which has repeatedly called for their release, says the soldiers were deployed as part of a security and logistical support contract signed with the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali. -Reuters

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