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BAMAKO: In the large Bamako market, vendors are trying to attract buyers preparing for the trough, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, but this year the atmosphere is gloomy, tainted by West African sanctions and violence that has hit Mali.

“Despite the embargo, the market is secure, but we have no customers, as in other years, little money, the market is sluggish,” – said Seydou Coulibaly, a wholesaler.

Located in the center of the capital of Mali, the large market scatters its wooden stalls under umbrellas, homemade tarpaulins or corrugated sheets, offering a little shade under the scorching sun.

Vendors greet customers with whistles. For others, singing or dancing is a lure.

“I’m looking for clothes and shoes for my children, I don’t have enough money (…) Last year I had everything for my four children for 100,000 CFA francs (150 euros, editor’s note), but today it’s impossible,” he said. Bintu Toure, a 40-year-old mother.

The trough marks the Fitr holiday in several West African countries, marking the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, purification and prayer for Muslims. It is celebrated this Sunday in Mali.

As in other Islamic countries, the custom is to meet in the family, wear nice clothes, and children expect to receive gifts.

Since January, Mali has been subject to harsh economic and financial sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in response to the intention of the junta, which is in power in Bamako after the military coups in August 2020 and May 2021, to remain. on site for several more years.

The regional organization has decided to close the borders with Mali and the commercial and financial embargo, excluding consumer goods and basic necessities.

“Complete uncertainty”

“We sell clothes for children, women and adults, imported from Dubai, China, Turkey and (from) Morocco. Due to the embargo, Senegal, which was our natural port, has been closed, which means that prices have risen, ”explains Ava Silla, a shopkeeper in a large market.

“Prices have risen by almost 30% for children’s clothing, confirms another saleswoman, Salimata Buare, for whom the embargo imposed by (…) ECOWAS is the basis of this situation.”

A poor, landlocked country, Mali has been suffering from all kinds of violence since 2012, and the ECOWAS embargo is starting to feel bad.

In the cattle market in the capital, “supply has far exceeded demand this year,” said Amadou Traore, an official with the Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.

“This army escorted animals from Mopti (in the center of the country, ed.) To Bamako, because there are mines and attacks (…) I wanted a lot, but people are not in the mood. to parties because of uncertainty, “says breeder Abdrakhman Dial.

“Customers are in no hurry. The market is very shy, says Hamadi Sow, a beef seller. “It’s very different from last year, when I sold ten beef in two days.”

Mohammou Yattassaye, a beef vendor, testified to the atmosphere of more than 500 km in his hometown of Jenna in the center of the country, now the center of the Sahelian crisis. ) parents call “regularly to hear from him,” because Jenna is in complete danger. “

“We are not talking about parties like here in Bamako. Security is our first concern in Jenna, “he said.

Ready-to-wear clothing retailer Rokiya Ballo regrets: “I have never seen such a lack of customers (up to the trough). Does not work (business), people do not have “money”.

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