Mali’s ruling junta said it “strongly” condemned “illegal” sanctions imposed on the country by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In a statement read on national television Monday, the military regime’s
spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga announced the recall of Bamako’s
ambassadors to the West African nations involved and the closure of air
and land borders with them.

ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union
(UEMOA) on Sunday imposed a range of economic and diplomatic
measures against Mali, including border closures and a trade embargo,
saying the junta’s intention to remain in power for several more years
was “totally unacceptable”.

The meeting in Ghana of regional leaders followed months of increasing
tensions over the timetable for restoring civilian rule in Mali after two
coups and a military takeover.

It accused ECOWAS and UEMOA of being “exploited by extra-regional
powers with ulterior motives,” an apparent reference to Mali’s partners
engaged militarily in the Sahel such as France, which has thousands of
troops battling a jihadist insurgency.

The junta said it “deplores the inhuman nature of these measures which affect populations already severely affected by the security crisis and the
health crisis.”