By BABA AHMED
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Thousands have joined in a government-sponsored rally in Mali’s capital to protest new regional economic sanctions and growing pressure from former colonizer France, after Mali’s military ruler pushed back promised elections by four years. The demonstrators in Bamako Friday shouted: “Down with imperialism, down with ECOWAS, down with France.” The protest had the support of Mali’s interim government, which was tasked with organizing elections by the end of February, 18 months after a military coup. That government is led by coup leader Col. Assimi Goita, who says insecurity in the country makes elections impossible. Last Sunday, the regional bloc known as ECOWAS imposed tougher sanctions, freezing assets in banks and halting most air traffic to Mali.