ECOWAS adopts Government of National Unity to resolve Mali crisis

ECOWAS delegate of Heads of State in Mali, July 24, 2020.

Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted a declaration of formation of a Government of National Unity towards resolving the lingering crisis in Mali.

ECOWAS Heads of State and Government unanimously agreed to the formation of a Government of National Unity in which 50 per cent nominees would come from the government of the day headed by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita; 30 per cent would come from the opposition; while 20 per cent nominees would be made by the civil society organisations (CSOs).

These were some of the highlights reached at a virtual Extraordinary Session of the leaders of the sub-regional body on Monday.

The meeting adopted positions to resolve crisis sparked off by disputed parliamentary elections held in Mali, which had led to widespread riots, arson and killings in the West African country.

It was agreed that given the numerous challenges facing the country, some members of government would be nominated before the National Unity Government is formed. These include: the Ministers in charge of Defense, Justice, Foreign Affairs, National Security and Finance.

The Malian President was equally mandated to ensure the stepping down of the 31 parliamentarians who emerged from the disputed polls, while a by-election would be held as speedily as possible.

Also agreed was that steps should be taken to reconstitute the Constitutional Court in the country as soon as possible, while a commission of enquiry would determine and identify those responsible for the violence that led to deaths and casualties as well as public properties destroyed between July 10 and 12.

Equally resolved was that the government would step up efforts to secure the release of opposition figure, Soumaila Cisse, kidnapped since March, among others.

ECOWAS Commission is to put in place a monitoring committee for the implementation of all the above measures.

This declaration, which is expected to be communicated to relevant organs of African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN), also agreed to support Keita in restoring peace and order to Mali, noting that no anti-constitutional change of government would be accepted anywhere in West Africa.

The virtual Extraordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government was attended by Presidents of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Cape Verde, The Gambia, and Niger Republic, who is the ECOWAS Chairman.

Equally present was President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

President Muhammadu Buhari at the virtual meeting of ECOWAS leaders. July 27, 2020. Photo: Femi Adesina

In his remarks, President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to government and people of Mali to consider recommendations of ECOWAS Special Envoy, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and his team, in resolving the political crisis, saying a government of national unity would provide inclusivity and ensure peaceful co-existence.

Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, urged Malian political leaders to consider the fragile peace in the country and the likely spiraling effect on the sub-region.

“I wish to place on record, my commendations for the various layers of efforts, and especially, of former President Goodluck Jonathan, whose painstaking engagements as Special Envoy and Mediator, provided clear road-map to contain the crisis in Mali.

“I appeal therefore, to all the Malian stakeholders to consider the proposals for the reform of the Constitutional Court and the established modalities for resolving the continuous 31 seats issue at the National Assembly.

“Equally significant, is the need to address governance challenges, whose manifestations are at the core of restiveness across the country. In order to address these matters holistically, it is important that all Malians embrace the call for a Government of National Unity where inclusivity of participation in the affairs of governing their country will be a responsibility of each and every Malian actor.

“I wish to reiterate the imperative of compromise and concessions for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis which would be acceptable to all parties,” Buhari said.

The President commended the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, for convening the Extraordinary Session to discuss the socio-economic, political and security developments in Mali, especially, following the outcome of the Parliamentary elections in the country, last March 2020.

He said: “Excellencies, dear colleagues and brothers, may I recall that last March, Parliamentary elections took place in Mali. Regrettably, results of 31 seats arising from those elections, provoked the spate of unrest and protests that became violent with tragic consequences in July 2020.

“We are still living and contending with the negative fallout from those incidents. Our organisation, the ECOWAS, using its instrumentality of peaceful resolutions of crisis and in the context of our Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, embarked upon a series of efforts to address this crisis, at the levels of Ministerial Committee, Special Envoy and Mediator and to a select-group of Heads of State and Government and now, the Authority of Heads of State and Government, at this Extraordinary Session, today.”

Buhari thanked Development Partners, the European Union, France, AU and the UN, urging them to continue to support efforts for national-regional security and stability of West Africa.

All ECOWAS leaders at the summit appreciated Goodluck Jonathan, who had been appointed Special Envoy and Mediator in the crisis.

Idowu Sowunmi