Sale of Malian debt canceled due to sanctions following postponement of elections

Mali will not be able to close a 30 billion CFA francs ($ 52 million) sale of treasury bills this week due to sanctions imposed by its neighbors, regional finance officials said. West Africa’s main political bloc and its monetary union announced sanctions on Sunday following the failure of interim authorities to hold democratic elections next month, as agreed after the 2020 military coup.

Sanctions, imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the UEMOA regional monetary union, include the suspension of financial transactions, the closure of land and air borders and the freezing of Mali’s assets. in central and commercial banks. Mali, which raised more than $ 2 billion last year in the regional debt market, was due to sell the treasury bills on Wednesday, according to the website of the regional debt planning agency UMOA-Titres based. in Abidjan.

“The Malian government will not be able to raise funds to finance its budget or finance some important projects after the note we received from the UEMOA,” a UMOA-Titres official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “We are not going to approve any requests.” A central bank official for the BCEAO in West Africa also said the sale would not take place and said the freeze on BCEAO transfers could lead to a liquidity shortage in Mali.

The Malian government was not immediately available for comment. The sanctions were imposed after the Malian government offered to extend its rule until December 2025, almost four years longer than originally agreed.

Acting President Assimi Goita, who led the coup against Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020, said on Monday that Mali could resist sanctions but was open to negotiations with its neighbors. Malian political parties opposed to the interim government have said they regret the sanctions but blame them on the authorities, which they urged “to opt for the path of seeking consensus and unity”.

Western powers, led by former colonial power France, which has thousands of troops in Mali to fight jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, backed the sanctions. But the transitional authorities received support from Russia on Tuesday, which has deployed troops in Mali. Western countries claim that large numbers of Russian mercenaries have also arrived in Mali, a claim the Malian government denies and which Russia has not directly addressed.

“The imposition of sanctions against the already difficult circumstances facing the country will significantly worsen the situation in the country and for the people,” Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said at a meeting of the Security Council of the UN. ($ 1 = 574.7500 CFA francs)

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