The ECOWAS Contact Group on the Mali crisis has called for a government of national unity to implement the road map for a peaceful end to the crisis in the country through the restoration of the territorial integrity of Mali and the organization of fair, transparent and credible presidential election at the end of ongoing 12-month transitional period.
In a Communiqué at the end of their 2nd Meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Saturday, 7th July 2012, the Heads of State of the Seven-nation Contact Group urged stakeholders in Mali, including political leaders and Civil Society to hold consultations and make proposals to the interim President Dioncounda Traore for the formation of the government of national unity before the end of July 2012.
The interim President, Prime Minister and members of the current Transitional Government shall not be candidates in the presidential elections to be organized by the national unity government, the Contact Group said. It also demanded that full investigation be conducted on the 21st May 2012 physical attack on President Traore and the perpetrators brought to book.
The Contact Group leaders appealed to all stakeholders in the Malian crisis for the total cessation of hostilities before the holy month of Ramadan. Armed groups occupying the North of the country should also immediately halt the destruction of historical monuments in Timbuktu, they said, and requested the International Community to set up a special fund for the restoration and preservation of the monuments which are classified as world heritage sites.
The Group also demanded the immediate release of all persons arbitrarily detained, and called on the International Criminal Court to initiate the necessary enquiries in order to identify the perpetrators of these war crimes and to initiate the necessary legal proceedings against them.
The Contact Group leaders equally appealed to the Malian Government to take all necessary measures, with the support of ECOWAS, to restore the central authority and administration throughout the country, and refer to the National Assembly the need to extend the mandate of the Supreme Council for Local Authorities and the economic, social and cultural Council.
They reaffirmed that the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of Mali, and the secularity of the State and religious freedom are non-negotiable,” and called on the socio-political stakeholders in Mali, including the armed groups illegally occupying the North, to embrace dialogue and work together to preserve social cohesion and national unity.
They also urged the armed groups to distance themselves from terrorist groups and all forms of extremism, in order to promote inclusive dialogue and a quick end to the crisis.
The Contact Group leaders encouraged the Government of Mali to put in place a national body responsible for peace talks with the armed groups in northern Mali under the aegis of the ECOWAS Mediator, with a view to seeking a negotiated political solution to the crisis though dialogue.
While expressing concern “over the tragic humanitarian situation in the North of Mali,” they launched an urgent appeal to the International Community to provide emergency aid to the people of northern Mali and displaced persons or refugees in other countries.
The Group also called for an increase in humanitarian aid and support for the creation of a humanitarian fund, while the armed groups occupying northern Mali should facilitate the aid operations being carried out by the International Community.
The Contact Group urged ECOWAS to provide support in building the capacities of the Malian Army, to allow it carry out its core duty of defending the national territory and protecting institutions, individuals and property. It called on the Malian Government to establish vibrant and sustained cooperation with ECOWAS, African Union and United Nations in order to manage effectively, the crisis in northern Mali.
In this regard, it urged the interim President to file without delay, a formal request to ECOWAS and the United Nations, for the deployment of ECOWAS troops to support the Malian Army in its core duty of defending the territorial integrity of Mali.
The Contact Group leaders reminded the Malian Government, armed groups occupying the North of the country and all other socio-political stakeholders, of their obligation to respect and ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in conformity with the country’s Constitution and international instruments to which Mali is signatory.
The Group called for urgent necessary steps to be taken to guarantee access of citizens to basic social services, particularly education, health, water and food.
In addition, the Contact Group leaders encouraged the Malian Government to take all appropriate measures to strengthen cooperation with all technical and financial partners of Mali, in order to preserve the economic viability of the country and meet the basic needs of the population.
They reiterated the decision of the 41st Ordinary Summit of ECOWAS leaders to deploy troops of the ECOWAS Standby Force in Mali as soon as possible to assist in the stabilisation of institutions and the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity, and called on the Malian Government, armed groups in the North, as well as other stakeholders, to ensure the full implementation of the relevant provisions of Resolution 2056 (2012) adopted by the UN Security Council on 5th July 2012.
The Heads of State warned that those who may seek to oppose the smooth running of the transition and ECOWAS decisions, will be liable to individual and collective sanctions.