President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged Heads of State and Government in West Africa to remain resolute in their support for the people of Mali for them to find a peaceful solution to the political challenges and restore democracy and stability to that country.
He said it was incumbent on the leaders of the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to critically examine the dynamics of the current situation in Mali and make informed decisions.
President Akufo-Addo, who is also the Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, made the call at an emergency ECOWAS Summit on Mali at the Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel in Accra yesterday.
The summit was attended by 10 Heads of State and two foreign ministers.
Just after the opening ceremony, the meeting went into camera.
The two-time head of the military junta in Mali, Colonel Assimi Goita, also led a high-powered team to the meeting.
Col Goita and his delegation were not at the summit grounds, but it was believed that they would appear before the Heads of State after the closed-door meeting.
Presidents who attended the summit were General Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’lvoire, Adama Barrow of The Gambia, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso.
The rest were Presidents Mohamed Bazoum of Niger; Faure Essizimna Gnassingbe of Togo and George Manneh Weah of Liberia.
Senegal and Benin were represented by their Foreign Ministers.
Also in attendance were the ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator for Mali, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, and the Vice-President, Ms Finda Koroma.
“I am, thus, using this opportunity to reiterate, on behalf of ECOWAS, our continued commitment to the peaceful transition in Mali, with the basic goal of restoring a democratic government and working for the stability of Mali and of our region,” President Akufo-Addo told the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at the opening ceremony.
The President, who called for the meeting at short notice, described the situation in Mali as a matter that could have grave consequences for the peace and stability of West Africa.
Recalling events, President Akufo-Addo spoke about the military takeover on August 18, last year, which led to the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and compelled the bloc to announce sanctions at a summit in Niamey and called for the establishment of a civilian-led transition for a period of 12 months.
He recounted how a mini-summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and members of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) at Peduase in the Eastern Region last year had afforded the leadership of the CNSP the opportunity to interact with the Heads of State and Government and agree a road map for the political transition.
He gave the details of the road map, including the fact that the political transition be headed by civilians, that both the President and the Prime Minister of the transition would be civilians during the entire period, and that the transition Vice-President, provided for in the Transition Charter, who was the head of the CNSP, should not succeed the Transition President.
He said the details included the fact that the CNSP be dissolved immediately the civilian transition was put in place, while the political transition should last not more than 18 months, effective September 15, last year.
“Once a civilian-led transition is put in place, ECOWAS will shepherd the Republic of Mali towards the restoration of constitutional order, in line with the relevant ECOWAS Protocols, and sanctions by ECOWAS against Mali were to be lifted when the transitional President and the Prime Minister were effectively designated and appointed,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said almost everything went according to plan, until “the sudden dissolution by the President of the Transition of the government, headed by Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, on May 14, 2021”.
He said the re-appointment of the Prime Minister by the President of the Transition Government, with instructions to form a new, broad-based government, generated considerable tension between various groups, particularly the military, as the former ministers for Defence and Security were not re-appointed in the new government which was announced on May 24, 2021.
President Akufo-Addo described as unfortunate, the dissolution of the Transitional Government, which occurred just a few days after the visit of the ECOWAS Mediator, former President of Nigeria, Mr Jonathan, who was not informed by the transitional authorities of the development.
He said following the announcement, the President and the Prime Minister of the Transition Government were arrested.
The ECOWAS Chairman said in view of the gravity of the situation, he asked the mediator to lead a high-level mission to Mali, which included the Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and the President of the commission, to assess the situation and report back to him.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the ECOWAS delegation held consultations with Colonel Goita, the Vice-President of the Transition Government, on the situation at hand and the exit strategy to the crisis and demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the President and the Prime Minister of the Transition Government and other detainees.