Malians in Nigeria protest ECOWAS sanctions in Abuja

From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

Nationals of Mali in Nigeria gathered in Abuja to protest what they termed ‘unfair’ and ‘illegal’ sanctions imposed on Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The Malians who trooped to the Embassy of Mali located on IBB Way, Maitama, Abuja, were men, women, youths and children.

They barricaded the entrance to the Embassy, carrying banners that bear inscriptions such as ‘The Malian Community in Nigeria Support the Transition Government in Mali,’ and ‘We are Against ECOWAS Sanctions to the People of Mali.’

ECOWAS had during its extraordinary summit in Ghana to deliberate on the political situation in Mali, dismissed plans by the Malian military junta to extend the transition period to five years.

In its resolution, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government imposed additional sanctions on Mali which included air and land border closures, recall of member states ambassadors, a trade embargo, cut off financial aid and freezing of Mali’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States.

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ECOWAS further announced the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Mali, with the exception of essential consumer goods; pharmaceutical products; medical supplies and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19 products, and electricity.

Speaking after receiving a protest letter from the Malian nationals, the Malian Ambassador to Nigeria, Moustapha Traore, said many of the Malian community were coming to the Embassy probably for the first time because of what happened a few days ago in Accra was worrisome to them.

The Malian Ambassador also said the Malian Community felt the need to come to the Embassy and say no to the sanctions that ECOWAS has imposed on Mali.

“And they have written a message that was read right here. And I don’t know if you understand French or not, but if I have just to summarise, they said that the ECOWAS sanctions on Mali are illegal and not fair. And they are just urging ECOWAS to lift these sanctions immediately,” Traore said.

Traore further said the Malian Community in Nigeria resolved that Mali does not need sanctions at the moment, adding that what Mali needs is support from the ECOWAS Community and from each member state of ECOWAS.

Traore also said the Malian Community resolved that Mali will stand against all sanctions and will go through the hard times and will go out stronger and more unified as a nation.

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The Malian envoy expressed gratitude to the Malian Community in Nigeria, saying that they have shown that they are true patriots in supporting the Malian nation as a whole.

He also expressed gratitude to Nigeria for the assistance it has rendered Mali since the beginning of the crisis.

“Since this crisis started, Nigeria has been very helpful in supporting the mediation team and other support. We are very grateful for the hospitality offered to the Malian Community and all the other support that the Nigerian Authority has provided to Mali,” Traore also said.

Earlier, the Chairman of Malians in Diaspora, Abuja, Kamissoko Sekou, said ECOWAS was wrong in imposing sanctions on Mali, saying that was the reason they are supporting the Malian government.

Sekou also said they were at the Embassy to support the Government of Mali because they have been facing very difficult times for the past ten years.

He disclosed that there were 40,000 foreign soldiers in Mali, whom he alleged, were killing the people of Mali instead of the terrorists they were supposed to fight.

“That is why we are standing to defend our country because if we succeed in freeing our country, all the ECOWAS member countries will be freed. We are fighting not only for Mali, ECOWAS, but all Africa. To defend our country is the best thing for us,” Sekou said.

Sekou, while also calling on all African countries to support Mali in its present ordeal, further alleged that they were being killed in the presence of everybody.

He said they were the richest in Africa and even in the world, but were the poorest in terms of their present conditions.

Sekou said they were at the Embassy alongside other brothers of ECOWAS countries, disclosing that the protest was being carried out simultaneously in the United States, Europe, Asia, Africa and other parts of the world.

Also speaking, the General Secretary, Youths and Sports, Diaspora Malian Citizens Organisation, Dembele Bakary, said they were at the Embassy to express their displeasure over the sanctions imposed on Mali by ECOWAS.

While saying that nationals of Mali were suffering as a result of the sanctions, Dembele also said they were solidly behind their president because of the good works he is doing in Mali.