The African Union on Friday lifted its suspension of Mali which went into effect after a military coup toppled the West African nation’s government in August.
The decision comes three days after the West African regional bloc ECOWAS announced it was ending its tough post-coup sanctions on Mali, saying it wished to back the country’s return to civilian rule.
The sanctions included border closures and a ban on commercial trade and financial flows but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.
“The Peace and Security Council, in view of recent positive political developments, has decided to lift the suspension it had imposed against Mali,” the AU’s 15-member security body said in a post on Twitter.
The 55-nation AU quickly condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” after president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was forced out in August by mutineering soldiers following mass protests.
The coup was bloodless but triggered widespread alarm among Mali’s neighbours.
A coup in 2012 was followed by an uprising in northern Mali which morphed into a bloody Islamist insurgency, claiming thousands of lives and threatening neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
This year’s coup came after months of protests over the country’s bloody jihadist insurgency, economic struggles and chronic inter-ethnic violence.
Under pressure from tough ECOWAS sanctions, Mali’s junta endorsed a “charter” to restore civilian rule within 18 months and appointed a committee which chose 70-year-old retired colonel Bah Ndaw as interim president.
On Monday Ndaw appointed a government, headed by former foreign minister Moctar Ouane, in which junta members were given key positions.
Defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation went to colonels.
But civilians were also appointed, including former prosecutor Mohamed Sidda Dicko as justice minister and former ambassador Zeini Moulaye as foreign minister.
Former armed groups that signed a peace agreement in 2015 are also being represented in the transitional government while members of Tuareg groups that led a rebellion in the north were awarded portfolios.
Despite its concessions, the junta, which calls itself the National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has still not met all the ECOWAS demands.
The regional bloc on Tuesday reiterated its call for the CNSP’s dissolution and for the release of civilian and military figures arrested during the coup.