The European Union has decided to impose a travel ban on five members of Mali’s junta after they reneged on an agreement to organize elections in February. In addition, according to EU diplomats, the bloc also agreed to freeze the assets of these five military rulers, as reported by Reuters.
The announcement comes in objection to the junta’s decision to postpone elections by five years and invite Russian mercenaries, TheSchengen.com reports.
The names of the five people subject to the sanctions have not yet been announced. However, according to the diplomats, they were junta officials also targeted by the Economic Community of West African States.
According to the diplomats, Mali’s foreign and defense ministers will not be targeted for keeping diplomatic channels open.
The latest measures, which had the support of all EU authorities, are due to come into effect later this month. These measures also come on the heels of a raft of restrictions imposed on Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that have criticized the transitional military government’s attempts to prolong its rule.
And last month, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on Mali for the same reason, including closing the country’s borders.
EU governments are trying to find a way to stabilize the wider Sahel region after a series of coups in Mali as well as in Chad and Burkina Faso.
In this regard, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressed that the junta in Mali is illegal amid growing tensions between European authorities and the West African country.
The announcement prompted authorities in Mali to expel France’s ambassador on Monday. Mali authorities gave him 72 hours to leave.
In addition, the Military Council has also deployed private Russian military contractors. The decision sparked controversy after several authorities in European countries considered it incompatible with their mission.
In this regard, the French government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, confirmed that Paris is consulting with its partners in an attempt to readjust its strategy in the region within two weeks.
“What is certain is that things cannot stay the way they are,” Attal noted, as reported by Swiss Info.
Earlier this month, Danish authorities sent a total of 105 military personnel to Mali in order to join the European Special Forces mission, also known as Takoba, which was expected to help Mali deal with armed groups, Al Jazeera reported. .
The Mali government has urged Denmark to withdraw its troops belonging to a European task force in the country. At the same time, France called on the Malian authorities to allow the Danish forces to remain.