Heads of state from ECOWAS member countries have agreed not to lift sanctions against Mali unless the government proposes a shorter transition.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it regrets a decision by Mali’s interim government to delay the return to civilian rule by 24 months while negotiations between the two sides were ongoing.
Mali’s military government, which first came to power in an August 2020 coup, issued a decree on Monday fixing the 24-month timetable, to be counted from March 2022.
“ECOWAS regrets that while negotiations are still ongoing to reach a consensus, the Malian authorities took this decision on the transition,” the bloc said in a late Monday statement.
It said an ECOWAS negotiator would continue to engage Malian authorities to reach a “mutually agreed timeline”.
The 15-member regional bloc has been pushing for a shorter extension of 16 months at most.
In January, ECOWAS had imposed stiff sanctions after the military rulers said they would not organise democratic elections the following month as initially planned.
Heads of state from ECOWAS member countries met recently in Ghana, where they agreed not to lift sanctions against Mali unless the government proposes a shorter transition. They are expected to hold another summit before July 3.