Key Takeaways

Having missed a 15 September deadline to appoint civilians to the positions of Prime Minister and President, Mali’s new military junta now has another week to do so and avoid the tightening of ECOWAS sanctions.

Mining industry executives remain bullish that their interests will be protected by a government which understands the value of extractives revenues. This confidence may be misplaced, however.

The junta faces intractable political differences with other opposition groups and is unlikely to be able to overcome these to the satisfaction of both ECOWAS and Malian political parties. This has set the scene for another failure to meet the bloc’s demand and an extension to sanctions that will hit all industries, mining included.

ECOWAS deadline for appointing civilian missed, risking tightening sanctions

A meeting between leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mali’s new military junta, which has been in power since last month’s coup, failed to come to an agreement on 15 September over the formation of a transitional government. This reflects previous assessments that the difficulty of brokering an agreement acceptable to Mali’s various political factions will be a major obstacle to the lifting of ECOWAS sanctions, which will remain in place for the time being.

Following Tuesday’s summit in Accra, a spokesman for the junta, the self-styled National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), stated that ECOWAS has given it until 23 September to reconsider its positions regarding the appointment of civilian leaders to oversee an 18-month transitional government. The military official, Ismael Wague, went on to suggest that ECOWAS would tighten its sanctions regime against Mali if this next deadline failed to be met.

Thus far, ECOWAS has essentially closed Mali’s borders to all trade except in basic goods, including food and fuel. These measures have been designed to moderate the impact on ordinary Malians while communicating the sincerity of the bloc’s opposition to the over-throw of civilian leadership in a region blighted by successive coup d’etats and associated instability in recent decades. According to Wague, the ECOWAS sanctions will be made absolute, preventing all trade between Mali and member states, should the CNSP miss the 23 September deadline to appoint civilian leaders.

Consequently, businesses with a presence in Mali should anticipate further restrictions to be applied in the weeks ahead. This will impact supply chains across all major sectors, but the country’s lucrative mining sector will also be impacted. Industry representatives have claimed they can cope with restrictions up to the fourth quarter of 2020, but with little sign of progress in talks between ECOWAS and the CNSP, this scenario looks ever more likely.

Miners play down impact of coup, still coping with Covid-19

This week’s failed meeting in Accra coincided with comments made by an executive for a leading gold mine operator in Mali stating that the coup, and wider instability arising from the country’s Islamist insurgency, is not preventing inward investment….

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