African studiesSecurity studies

African Union Suspends Mali Again

Map by Evan Centanni, from blank map by Eric Gaba. License: CC BY-SA

Mali Suspended from AU for Second Time in Less Than a Year

PolGeoNow readers may remember that Mali was suspended from membership in the African Union (AU) last August, after a military faction overthrew the country’s government. That suspension was reversed in October, when a civilian transitional government came to power. But with military figures once again taking over the country late last month, the AU has once again suspended Mali’s membership. The new suspension was imposed on June 6.

Besides being the second time in less than a year, this is actually Mali’s third AU suspension overall – the first was imposed in response to yet another military takeover back in 2012. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), from which Mali was also suspended in August, has also again suspended the country’s membership. It’s a bit unclear when the first ECOWAS suspension had officially ended – the bloc said last October that it was lifting the economic sanctions it had imposed on Mali, but the announcement didn’t explicitly say that the country’s membership privileges had been restored.

Flag of Mali Country Short Name: 
• Mali (English, French)
Official Name: 
• Republic of Mali (English)
• République du Mali (French)
Capital: Bamako

Which countries are suspended from the African Union?

Besides Mali, the only other member country currently locked out of the African Union is South Sudan, which was suspended last July for falling three years behind on its membership payments.

The AU routinely suspends any member country that goes through an unconstitutional change of leadership, especially if it involves military intervention in civilian politics. On the other hand, the rules generally turn a blind eye to leaders who stay in power unconstitutionally, or who had already seized power before the rules took effect. Suspended countries are still considered members, but are temporarily shut out of the organization’s meetings and denied a vote in the group’s decision-making.

The African Union includes every independent, internationally-recognized country with a capital in Africa, including the partially-recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which claims to be the government of Western Sahara. Two cities on the North African coast, as well as some outlying islands, are controlled by non-African countries, leaving them outside the African Union for practical purposes. However, even many of those are still claimed by AU member countries in principle.

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SAKHRI Mohamed

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