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The European Union blacklisted Mali’s transitional prime minister and members of interim President Assimi Goita’s inner circle on Friday for delaying elections amid strained relations with the West-African country, according to a statement.
In a press release, the 27 EU member states said the targets are subject to sanctions “for actions that obstruct and undermine the successful completion of Mali’s political transition.”
The sanctions target five individuals and come after the EU criticized Mali’s military transition government for delaying a return to democracy through elections.
The restrictions include a travel ban to EU territories and an asset freeze. The regulations also mean EU entities and individuals cannot do business with those implicated.
Among the targets are Malian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, the president of the so-called National Transitional Council, Malick Diaw, and two ministers.
Relations between the bloc and the West African country are strained. On Monday, Mali expelled France’s ambassador. Danish troops withdrew from the country in late January after the military government’s request.
Mali’s use of the Russian mercenary company Wagner has also been criticized in France, Britain, Germany and other countries.
The EU imposed sanctions on Wagner in December, accusing it of fomenting violence in Mali.
Mali has experienced three military coups since 2012 and is considered politically extremely unstable. Since the last coup in May, the country has been led by a transitional military government.
Many extremist militias regularly carry out attacks in Mali and nearby Niger and Burkina Faso. The EU has been active in military training missions in Mali to help armed forces combat terrorist groups.