Mali says it’s secured support from Guinea and Mauritania to sidestep sanctions that are threatening the landlocked West African nation’s ability to import goods.
A delegation of Malian ministers traveled to the neighboring nations this week and visited their ports, the government said in a statement Wednesday. The trip comes after the Economic Community of West African States imposed sanctions on Mali over its failure to organize presidential elections following an August 2020 military coup.
“Guinea and Mauritania reaffirmed their active solidarity and complete readiness to support Mali in these times of difficulty,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in the statement. A third stop in Algeria was canceled, a ministry spokesman said in an emailed response to questions, without commenting further.
The 15-nation Ecowas bloc announced on Jan. 9 it was freezing Malian assets held at the region’s central bank and by commercial lenders in member-states. It also suspended non-essential financial transactions and ordered land borders be closed, calling on all of Mali’s neighbors to do the same to pressure the military-led government to restore democratic rule.
Mauritania isn’t a member of the regional bloc and Guinea was suspended last year in response to a separate coup in that country.
Ecowas’ sanctions came a week after the interim government led by Assimi Goita, an army colonel, proposed a five-year transition period,in defiance of an earlier promise to hold elections next month. Goita, who staged the coup that overthrew the country’s democratically elected leader, has been president since May.
In a bid to keep government running, Mali now plans to borrow 80 billion CFA francs ($139 million) from local banks to pay state workers’ salaries and other recurring costs, according to people familiar to the matter. A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment on a planned loan but said workers would receive their dues.
Mali is Africa’s third-biggest gold producer and companies including Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. and Vancouver’s B2Gold Corp. operate in the country. While gold miners continue to monitor the situation, none has reported disruptions to shipments so far.