World Bank suspends payments to Mali after coup as leader warns of sanctions


Malians hold photo with image of coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who toppled the president and prime minister this week, and the flag of Russia during a protest by the pro-Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) in Bamako, Mali, on May 28, 2021. REUTERS / Amadou Keita / Files

The World Bank said on Friday it had temporarily suspended payments to operations in Mali following a military coup, while the man set to become the new prime minister warned that sanctions would only do complicate the country’s crisis.

The Bank’s actions add to pressure on Malian military leaders after chief security ally France on Thursday announced it was suspending joint operations with Malian troops in order to push for a return to a civilian regime. Read more

The military overthrow of Mali’s transitional president last week, his second coup in nine months, has drawn international condemnation and raised fears that the political crisis may weaken regional efforts to combat Islamist militants.

The World Bank, whose International Development Association (IDA) is currently funding projects worth $ 1.5 billion in Mali, confirmed the suspension of payments in a statement to Reuters.

“In accordance with the World Bank’s policy applicable to similar situations, it has temporarily suspended disbursements on its operations in Mali, as it closely monitors and assesses the situation,” he said.

Assimi Goita, the colonel who led the two coups, was declared president last Friday after serving as vice president under Bah Ndaw, who had led the transition since September. Ndaw and his prime minister resigned while in military detention last week.

Goita is widely expected in the coming days to appoint as Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, the leader of the M5-RFP opposition coalition which led the protests against former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita before his overthrow last August.

During a rally in the capital Bamako on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the start of the protests against Keita, Maïga was in turn firm and conciliatory towards foreign partners.

“We will respect international commitments which are not contrary to the fundamental interests of the Malian people,” he declared in front of thousands of supporters on the city’s Independence Square.

“Sanctions and threats will only complicate the situation,” he said.

France, the former colonial power, has more than 5,000 troops conducting counterinsurgency operations against Islamist militants in Mali and throughout the Sahel, an arid region of West Africa just below of the Sahara desert.

He hopes to use his leverage to pressure Goita to stick to the 18-month timetable agreed upon at the start of the transition by holding a presidential election next February.

The African Union and a West African regional bloc responded to the coup by suspending Mali’s membership but did not impose additional sanctions.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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