ECOWAS on Sunday agreed to close borders with Mali and impose sweeping economic sanctions in response to “unacceptable” delays holding promised elections after a 2020 military coup.

The decision followed a summit of leaders of the bloc called to discuss a proposal from Mali’s transitional authorities to hold elections in December 2025 instead of next month as originally agreed.

In a communique ECOWAS said it found the proposed timetable for a transition totally unacceptable.

This timetable “simply means that an illegitimate military transition Government will take the Malian people hostage,” it said.

The 15-member bloc said it had agreed to impose additional sanctions with immediate effect, including the closure of members’ land and air borders with Mali, the suspension of non-essential financial transactions, and the freezing of Malian state assets in ECOWAS central and commercial banks.

There was no immediate response from the Malian authorities.

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