West Africa bloc imposes sanctions on Mali post-coup

The body representing West African nations on Monday imposed severe financial sanctions on Mali, after a 72-hour deadline elapsed and the soldiers that recently seized power failed to fully restore constitutional order.

The Economic Community of West African States held an emergency meeting in the capital of Senegal on Monday. After a three-hour meeting the current chair of the bloc, Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara, emerged to say that the sanctions would go into effect immediately.

They include the closing of the borders with Mali and the freezing of the nation's account in the regional central bank, which together will likely suffocate the economy of this dirt-poor and landlocked nation. Mali imports its petroleum products from neighboring Ivory Coast and with the border being closed, the country is likely to run out of gasoline. It could also plunge the nation of over 15 million into darkness, because the electricity grid is partially powered by diesel during the hot season, when hydropower is ineffective due to the low water table.

"All of the applicable measures are applicable starting today and until the constitutional order is restored," Ouattara told reporters.

Soldiers grabbed control of Mali on March 21, following a mutiny at an army base in the capital. The regional body issued its 72-hour deadline last week. On Sunday in an effort to stave off the sanctions, the captain that led the coup in Mali held a press conference to say that he was reinstating the nation's constitution and planning to hold elections.

Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo refused to give a timeline on when the elections would be held, and dodged questions from reporters who asked if he would continue to be president in the transitional period before the election.

"The measures taken by the junta are in the right direction, but are not sufficient," Ouattara said.