For several months, “these are the same articles (in the stalls). I am very happy with the end of the embargo”, affirms this seller of loincloths and other feminine articles at the Halles de Bamako, one of the largest markets in the region. Malian capital.

“It is a great relief for the transport sector. All the drivers resumed after the announcement of the lifting of sanctions”, adds Youssouf Traoré, president of the Malian Council of Road Carriers (CMTR), in this landlocked country and essentially dependent on road trade with its West African neighbors for its supplies.

The transitional government in Mali declared itself Monday evening “satisfied” after the lifting on Sunday of these sanctions, which it considers “illegal and inhuman”.

The government, dominated by the military, “notes with satisfaction a convergence of views that has allowed” the lifting of the embargo against Mali.

West African leaders lifted on Sunday in Accra the trade and financial sanctions decided in January against Mali, in the heart of the Sahel, the scene of two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021.

The political crisis in this country goes hand in hand with a serious security crisis since 2012 and the outbreak of separatist and jihadist insurgencies in the north.

The colonels in power gave in to demands from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by recently publishing a new electoral law and a timetable providing in particular for a presidential election in February 2024, during a limited transition. at two years old.

The individual sanctions and the suspension of Mali from the bodies of ECOWAS remain however maintained until the return to constitutional order.

The lifting of the embargo was Monday the main point of discussion at the big market of Bamako. In addition to Abidjan, traders say they plan to go shopping in Dakar, whose port receives some of the goods destined for neighboring Mali.

– One week away from Eid –

The end of the blockade comes less than a week before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, scheduled for July 9 in Mali, where it is called Tabaski, traditionally an occasion for many expenses.

Trader Kadiatou Coulibaly plans to go to Abidjan for purchases and “come back to sell them for the party. Women only like new things”.

“We have to sell our sheep to our Senegalese and Ivorian brothers as before!” A livestock seller recently told AFP in front of his animals in Bamako, anonymously.

Mali, with a large herd and a large pastoral population, is one of the main providers of livestock for the sub-region.

The members and officials of the Malian Council of Shippers rushed Monday to the headquarters of this organization, in the center of Bamako.

“We believe that with the lifting of the embargo, economic and transport activities will” resume towards West African countries, says Mr. Traoré of the CMTR.

“We are emerging from a situation that has weakened many companies,” said Youssouf Bathily, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mali.

Instability and sanctions have led to “a downward revision of gross domestic product growth estimates from 5.3% to 3.4%” for 2022 “and a deterioration in living conditions” in Mali, including imports about 42% come from West African countries, underlines a recent UN report.

Because of the sanctions, institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank had suspended disbursements for Mali, also in default of payment, particularly on the West African financial market.

“During the embargo we found alternative solutions. We went through (the ports of Nouakchott) and Conakry”, to bypass Dakar and Abidjan. “Our activities were stopped at 70%. We are now waiting for the support of the State in taxation to get off to a good start”, adds Mr. Touré of the CMTR.