In Mali, an unprecedented demonstration against ECOWAS sanctions


A human tide, Independence Square in Bamako. Several thousand Malians responded to the transition government’s call to demonstrate on Friday, January 14, to show their opposition to the sanctions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Union and West African monetary union (UEMOA) against their country.

In an overheated atmosphere, under Vuvuzela concerts, the demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to ECOWAS and France. The latter is considered to have put pressure on several countries in the region to banish Mali. As proof, according to them, the suspension of Air France flights to Bamako, decided by the French authorities. “France is also certainly an ECOWAS state,” laughs Abdoulaye, a young trader who closed his shop at the market to better attend the event where several generations rub shoulders.

“I was still young during independence, but we were proud to be Malians, to have Modibo Keita as our leader. For the first time since that time, I feel the same feeling with our current authorities, we are a proud people”, rejoices Salif Sissoko, 68, who has decided to “brave” the threat of Covid and the risk of sunstroke. due to the high heat, which notably caused several demonstrators to lose consciousness.

“We remain open to dialogue”

“It is part of the history of Africa that is being played out in Mali. Today is the beginning of the end of FrançAfrique” assured, from the desk, to the cheers of the crowd, Adama Ben Diarra, member of the National Transitional Council and fervent militant of a Russian intervention in Mali. . Jeamille Bittar, a politician, support of the transition, has, meanwhile, pushed further by asking the authorities to break diplomatic relations with France and to turn their backs on the sub-regional authorities which have put the country under sanctions. . “That’s what we want, because we are looking for sincerity and a win-win partnership in our relations with other countries,” agrees a protester.

But the tone was different for members of the transitional government present at the rally, which many are already describing as the largest in Mali’s modern history. “One of Colonel Assimi Goita’s objectives remains the return to constitutional order, but that cannot be done without security. We remain open to dialogue,” said Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, Minister of Territorial Administration and government spokesman. However, he insisted, “some partners have wrongly interpreted humility and openness to dialogue as fear”.

Transitional Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, who pulled off a nice political coup, said that this government, headed by Colonel Assimi Goita, is a “quiet force that no one can disturb”. Based on the history of Mali based on resistance, Choguel Maiga, dressed in military uniform for the occasion, explained that the French colonizer took thirty-eight years (1878-1916) before conquering the country by the weapons. “All Malians will stand up as one in the face of adversity to safeguard the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the territory,” he promised the demonstrators, many of whom shouted in favor of a five-year transition. Ahead of this unprecedented demonstration, mobilizations were held in several regions of the country.