NIGERIA is in a high-level delegation which the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is sending to Mali in the quest to restore constitutional order to that country following March 22 coup that ousted President Ahmani Toumani Toure.
The ECOWAS commission said yesterday in Abuja that the high level delegation which will be led by the chairman of its authority and Ivoirien President Alassane Ouattara is due in Mali within 48 hours to “secure the speedy restoration of constitutional order in the country.”
Besides Nigeria and the Chairman of the African Union (AU), President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin Republic, other leaders who are to mediate in this first line are the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Liberia and Niger being a decision taken at an extraordinary summit of regional leaders which just ended in Abidjan.
The visit will be preceded by the meeting of the Chiefs of Defence Staff of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo who will be in the country with a five-pronged mandate.
The chiefs of defence staff delegation which also includes the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadre Desire Ouedraogo and other ECOWAS officials will sensitise the junta on the need for rapid return to constitutional order and also inform it of recent measures envisaged by ECOWAS to assist the country preserve its territorial integrity.
It will also evaluate the military situation on the ground and the command chain; intimate the junta on the possibility of sanctions for non-compliance and inform them of other possible measures that may be taken by ECOWAS to re-establish constitutional order.
The Abidjan summit had also instructed the ECOWAS Commission to put the ECOWAS Standby Force in a state of readiness for all eventualities.
The summit which examined the political developments in the country condemned the overthrow of the democratically elected government and “categorically denies any form of legitimacy to the junta which called itself the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and the State.”
Announcing the immediate suspension of Mali from participation in all decision-making bodies of ECOWAS in accordance with the provisions of the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the regional leaders reminded the junta of its responsibility for the safety and security of President Toure and other political detainees.
In the event of non-compliance by the junta with these decisions, the summit urged all ECOWAS Member States to immediately impose a travel ban as well as diplomatic and financial embargo on members of the junta and their close collaborators.
The summit also welcomed the decisions of the European Union and other partners to suspend development assistance and the suspension of Mali by the African Union.
Furthermore, the regional leaders reiterated their condemnation of the atrocities being perpetrated by rebels in the North of Mali, the activities of terrorist cells and networks of transnational organised crime that have transformed that part of the country into a zone of acute insecurity and banditry.
They noted the call by ECOWAS on the separatist Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and other militias operating in the country and which are blamed for the atrocities to observe a ceasefire, lay down their weapons and seek redress of their grievances through dialogue.
The summit, which was attended by representatives of Algeria and Mauritania, named President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso as mediator in the Malian crisis with the mandate to interact with relevant stakeholders and engage them in fruitful dialogue for the restoration of peace in the country taking into account ongoing efforts in this direction.
Before going home, the leaders warned that the region “will take all necessary measures to end the rebellion and secure the territorial integrity of Mali, including the use of force.”