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Sanctioned Mali seeking ‘compromise’ with West African neighbors

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Mali’s army-dominated government said on Wednesday that it was in talks with the West African bloc ECOWAS, as well as other organizations, to find a “compromise” on restoring civilian rule.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed a trade embargo and closed borders with Mali in January, in a move backed by France, the United States and the European Union.

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The measures followed a proposal from Mali’s ruling junta to stay in power for up to five years before staging elections – despite an earlier commitment to hold a vote on February 27.

On Wednesday, Mali’s territorial administration ministry stated that it had formed a “dialogue group” with ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to discuss the dispute.

The group, which also includes the Mauritanian, Senegalese and Ghanaian governments, met for the first time on January 31.

The group aims to “reconcile positions and seek compromise,” the Malian government statement said.

Mali has been at increasing loggerheads with its international partners since the military seized power in the Sahel state in 2020.

The junta has pledged to restore civilian rule, but it argues that rampant insecurity prevents it from holding swift elections.

Mali has been struggling to contain an extremist insurgency that first emerged in 2012, and has since spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The country’s military rulers have remained defiant in the face of the economic sanctions but have also said they remain open to dialogue.

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