West African leaders have lifted punishing sanctions it imposed on Mali after a military coup in August overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday said “heads of state and government have decided to lift sanctions” in order to “support” the handover to civilian rule.
The junta had appointed retired Colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president, former Foreign Minister Moctar Ouane as prime minister and Colonel Assimi Goita as interim vice president in a transition that is expected to last 18 months.
The ECOWAS move came a day after Ndaw, who was sworn in last month, appointed a 25-strong government tasked with leading the country to elections.
At least four central cabinet posts – defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation – went to military officials. One of the August 18 coup leaders, Colonel Sadio Camara, was named defence minister, while Colonel Modibo Kone got the security and civil protection portfolio. Colonel Ismael Wague, who broke the news of the coup in a dramatic night-time television broadcast, was appointed national reconciliation minister.
Civilians were also appointed to the transitional government, including former prosecutor Mohamed Sidda Dicko as justice minister and former ambassador Zeini Moulaye as foreign affairs minister.
Recall that ECOWAS had earlier mounted political and economic pressure on the junta to swiftly restore civilian rule.
The Sanctions were crippling to a nation already in dire strait.
After protracted negotiations, the coup leaders finally agreed to complete that transition. They abandoned last week, a contentious measure that would have enabled coup leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to potentially replace Ndaw if ever he was incapacitated.