Mali’s population has taken to the streets in protest of a military coup severe penalties established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) due to delayed elections.
Thousands of people dressed in red, yellow, and green gathered on Friday in the central courtyard of Mali’s capital at a rally of government.
People poured into Independence Square in Bamako carrying placards reading, “Down with ECOWAS” and “Down with France”, chanting patriotic songs.
Nicolas Haque of Al Jazeera, from Dakar in the vicinity of Senegal, said Friday’s protests had risen to thousands of people across the country.
“People gathered as” unconstitutional “, as well as” demonstrating in support of the Malian leadership “, Haque said.
Leaders of the 15-member ECOWAS bloc agreed to allow Mali last week, imposing a trade ban and closing the air and air borders with the country.
The move, which was later backed by the United States, the former European Union and former French colonies, followed the Malian military’s decision to hold elections in December 2025 instead of February as originally agreed.
The military handed down sanctions as “brutal” and “cruel” and called for demonstrations.
Colonel Assimi Goita, who took office in August 2020, has also called on the people of Mali to “defend our country”.
On Friday, his office said the federal government had made “plans” on sanctions that could prevent it, not to mention more. It added that the government was open to talks with local organizations and did not want to engage in “armed conflict”.
According to Haque, in the last few days since the crackdown, the price of basic commodities such as rice has risen.
“It would be difficult for the government to give money to the top workers and soldiers if it could not get their money from the central bank,” he said.
Authorities attended a rally in Bamako on Friday and were applauded.
Nouhoum Sarr, a member of Mali’s transitional parliament, said “our country is being liberated and liberated by the Malian military and the people of Mali.”
“Assimi should live a long life,” said Abdoulaye Yanoga, a 27-year-old unemployed man, referring to the Malian leader. “These sanctions will not prevail here.”
In addition to closing down borders and banning trade, ECOWAS leaders also suspended financial aid to Mali and suspended the country’s economy in the Central Bank of West Africa States.
Risks threaten to destroy the already vulnerable economy in the world’s poorest nations. Violent terrorist attacks have been taking place in Mali since 2012, with many parts of the country located outside the state.
Mali has already heard the consequences of the sanctions, as several airlines, including Air France, have suspended flights to Bamako.
The country is also at risk of running out of money. Kako Nubukpo, Commissioner for West African Economic and Monetary Union, said it had “been eliminated from the world”.
UN urges ‘legal’ voting time
France, a former colonial country of Mali, which also has a EU rotating leadership, and the US have all said they support ECOWAS sanctions.
EU Commissioner Josep Borrel said Thursday that Brussels will follow ECOWAS in taking action against Mali over delayed elections.
On the same day, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “it is imperative that the Malian government make a decision. valid election process“.
Despite the difficulties, many in Mali have supported the military, with patriotic messages flooding the television screen.
Mali’s relations with its neighbors and allies have been severely strained since Goita’s actions in August 2020 against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Threatened with sanctions after the putsch, Goita promised to hold presidential and legislative elections, and to restore civilian rule, by February 2022.
But he did second shot in May 2021, forcing a temporary government and disrupting the process of restoring democracy. Goita also declared himself a permanent president.
His government says Mali’s insecurity is hampering the holding of safe elections in late February.
Many of the protests that took place on Friday sparked comments from French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“If it is safe to show, then it is better to vote,” he said, as EU foreign ministers met in Brest, in northwestern France.
France has thousands of troops in Mali and neighboring Sahel countries in West Africa fighting militants. “We are in Mali and we live, but not everything,” Le Drian said.