Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) has told the new military junta in Mali it has just one year to return the country back to civilian rule.
This was one of the decisions arrived by the ECOWAS authority at the end of its second virtual extraordinary session on the socio-political situation in Mali.
Speaking during the session, President Muhmmadu Buhari, emphasised the needs for the country to return to democracy, warning that Mali could not afford to stand alone, charging the junta to be realistic by setting acceptable time table for return of democratic rule.
The President noted the briefings so far received from the ECOWAS Special Envoy, former President Goodluck Jonathan, indicated the regional body’s engagements with the new military leadership in Mali were yet to achieve the desired results in several key areas.
Buhari, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said: “I am, however, personally happy to hear of the release from detention of the former President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who is reported to be in good condition.
“The disposition of the new leadership to free the remaining senior officials is noted as this should contribute to the renewed sense of belonging to the Malian people.
“With regards to other areas being negotiated, Nigeria believes that the people of Mali and the military leaders need to appreciate the fragility of their country and the imminent danger which it poses to the citizens of Mali as well as the ECOWAS sub-region.”
He added that the military leadership should be flexible in negotiations by putting the interest of all Malians and the harmony of the sub-region into consideration.
“For the people of Mali, specifically the leadership, embracing Democracy and Good Governance is crucial to the country’s political stability. Mali cannot therefore afford to stand alone, hence the need to come to terms with the realities of an acceptable and workable transition compact that inspires the confidence of all Malians.
“Meanwhile, I urge the military leadership to consider: the immediate release of all the remaining senior Government officials in detention, without pre-conditions; a transition process, to be completed in not more than 12 months, and which shall include the representatives of Malian stakeholders.
“This is a critical consideration for the new government to enjoy the cooperation and collaboration of regional and international community, and to allow the easing of sanctions imposed on Mali.’’
Among Declarations of the Summit adopted by ECOWAS leaders were that the transition government in Mali must be led by civilians, and that the return to constitutional order should be concluded within 12 months.
Malian military was also encouraged to focus on securing the country, faced with severe security threats from its northern part, instead of an incursion into governance.