28 March 2012

ECOWAS Chairman Ouattara Leads High-Level Delegation To Mali

Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Peacekeepers (file photos).

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A high-level delegation of ECOWAS leaders led by the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire is due in Mali within 48 hours to secure the speedy restoration of constitutional order in the country following the 22nd March 2012 coup that ousted President Ahmani Toumani Toure.

The dispatch of the delegation, which also includes the Chairman of the African Union, President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin Republic and the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria, was one of the decisions of the Tuesday, 27th March 2012 extraordinary summit of regional leaders held in Abidjan.

The visit will be preceded on Wednesday, 28th March 2012 by that 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 sensitize the junta on the need for rapid return to constitutional order and also inform them 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 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.

The regional leaders reminded the junta of its responsibility for the safety and security of President Toure and other political detainees.

They also announced 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.

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 organized crime that have transformed that part of the country into a zone of acute insecurity and banditry.

They reiterated 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.

The summit 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."

It also decided to despatch a joint ECOWAS-AU-UN fact-finding mission to Guinea Bissau in connection with the forthcoming presidential run-off election and the security situation in the country.

The Heads of State also endorsed the candidature of Nigeria's Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the post of the President of the World Bank.

The summit also congratulated candidate Macky Sall on his remarkable victory in the 25th March 2012 Presidential election in Senegal and paid tribute to the outgoing President Abdoulaye Wade, for gracefully conceding defeat and for his contribution to the consolidation of democracy in the country and region.

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