This content is not available in your region

Mali debt sale cancelled because of sanctions over election delay

Access to the comments Comments
By Reuters

ABIDJAN/BAMAKO – Mali will not be able to complete a 30 billion-CFA-franc ($52.20 million) sale of T-bills this week because of sanctions imposed by its neighbours, regional financial officials said.

West Africa’s main political bloc and its monetary union announced a raft of sanctions against Mali on Sunday over the interim authorities’ failure to hold democratic elections next month as agreed after a 2020 military coup.

The sanctions, imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the regional monetary union UEMOA, include the suspension of financial transactions, the closing 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 on the regional debt market, was scheduled to sell the T-bills on Wednesday, according to the website of Abidjan-based regional debt-planning agency UMOA-Titres.

“The Malian government will not be able to raise funds to finance its budget or finance certain important projects after the note that we received from UEMOA,” an UMOA-Titres official told Reuters.

“The Malian government is used to turning to the regional market to raise funds. I think this situation will be very difficult … because we are not going to approve any request,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An official with West Africa’s BCEAO central bank said the freezing of transfers from the BCEAO could lead to a liquidity shortage in Mali.

“I don’t think the government will be able to hold out for long,” said the official, who also asked not to be identified.

Mali’s government was not immediately available to comment.

The sanctions were imposed after Mali’s government proposed to extend its rule until December 2025 – nearly four years longer than originally agreed.

Interim President Assimi Goita, who led the coup against Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020, said on Monday that Mali could withstand sanctions but said he was open to negotiations with neighbours.

The measures are likely to cause further hardship for one of the world’s least-developed economies, which has been battered by an Islamist insurgency for a decade.

In a statement on Tuesday, political parties opposed to the interim government said they regretted the regional sanctions but placed the blame at the feet of Malian authorities, who they urged to “opt for the path of seeking consensus and unity”.

($1 = 574.7500 CFA francs)