The World Bank has halted payments to Mali following the coup, as the country’s government has warned against sanctions.

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The World Bank said on Friday it has temporarily stopped payments to operations in Mali following a military coup, as the man likely to become the next prime minister said sanctions would further compound the country’s predicament.

The World Bank’s measures put more pressure on Mali’s military leadership after France said on Thursday that it will cease joint operations with Malian forces in order to urge for a restoration to civilian government.

The military’s ouster of Mali’s transitional president last week, the country’s second coup in nine months, drew worldwide outrage and fueled concern that the political turmoil will undermine regional efforts to combat Islamist terrorists.

The World Bank, whose International Development Association (IDA) is now sponsoring $1.5 billion in Mali projects, confirmed the suspension of payments to Reuters in a statement.

“In accordance with the World Bank policy applicable to similar situations, it has temporarily paused disbursements on its operations in Mali, as it closely monitors and assesses the situation,” it said.

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Assimi Goita, the colonel who led both coups, was declared president last Friday after having served as vice president under Bah Ndaw, who had been leading the transition since September. Ndaw and his prime minister resigned while in military custody last week.

Goita is widely expected in the coming days to name as prime minister Choguel Maiga, the leader of the M5-RFP opposition coalition that spearheaded protests against former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita before his overthrow last August.

At a rally in the capital Bamako on Friday to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the protests against Keita, Maiga was alternately firm and conciliatory toward foreign partners.

“We will respect international engagements that aren’t contrary to the fundamental interests of the Malian people,” he said before thousands of supporters in the city’s Independence Square.

“Sanctions and threats will only complicate the situation,” he said.

France, the former colonial power, has more than 5,000 troops waging counter-insurgency operations against Islamist militants in Mali and the wider Sahel, an arid region of West Africa just below the Sahara desert.

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It hopes to use its leverage to press Goita to respect the 18-month timetable agreed to at the start of the transition by organising a presidential election next February.

The African Union and a West African regional bloc responded to the coup by suspending Mali’s membership but did not impose further sanctions.


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