Abuja — The Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) rose from a virtual meeting yesterday with a threat to sanction recalcitrant parties in the ongoing political crisis rocking Mali.
The organisation, comprising West African leaders, said it would wield the big stick against groups which refuse to abide by recommendations prescribed to restore peace to the troubled country.
"The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government request the commission to consider sanctions against all those who act contrary to the normalisation process of the crisis," they said.
President Muhammadu Buhari participated in the virtual meeting, which considered the roadmap outlined by ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali and Nigeria's former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, for the resolution of the crisis.
At the meeting, West African leaders harped on the necessity to respect existing institutions in Mali, notably constitutional platforms to gain power in accordance with ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
According to them, the Malian institutions are inoperative and need to be re-established, as quickly as possible, noting that such sovereign institutions are necessary for the effective functioning of the state and handling of issues raised by protesters.
A communiqué read by Nigeria's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Zubairu Dada, after the meeting, among others, asked political parties to ensure the resignation of the 31 members of parliament whose controversial elections into the parliament triggered the crisis.
"These resignations will pave the way for by-elections. Pending these by-elections, the parliament will operate with the 116 remaining members," the communiqué said.
The leaders directed all institutions in Mali to facilitate the immediate recomposition of Constitutional Court in line with legal provisions.
"In case of difficulty for the various bodies in designating their members to the Constitutional Court, the President of the Republic will use the exceptional power provided by Article 50 of the Constitution of Mali to nominate the nine members," the communiqué added.
The ECOWAS leaders also recommended the constitution of a national unity government as recommended by the special envoy and mediator in the crisis.
They appealed to the opposition, notably, the M5-RFP, to participate in the proposed national unity government.
They said the proposed national unity government would handle the consequences of the protests and implement all reforms and recommendations issued from the Inclusive National Dialogue and improve governance.
In his remarks at the meeting, Buhari called for the reform of the Constitutional Court and the creation of modalities for the resolution of issues on 31 seats at the National Assembly.
He, among others, called for compromise in the efforts to resolve the crisis.
Buhari added: "I wish to reiterate the imperative of compromise and concessions for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis, which will be acceptable to all parties.
"It is necessary that we realise the general fragility of our sub-region hedged in different layers of negative tendencies in the Sahel, hence the need to always for us to trade cautiously in handling the multiple challenges confronting our sub-region, especially the larger level of insecurity, which terrorism and insurgency activities represent in West Africa.
"Finally, while thanking our development partners, the European Union, France, African Union and the United Nations, I call on them to continue to support efforts for national, regional security of West Africa."
The crisis broke out in the country after the court nullified results of 31 parliamentary seats in the recently-held polls and gave victory to some other contenders, resulting in the allegation by the resistance group that the judgment was influenced by the president.
During the riots of July 10 on the matter, some protesters were killed by security agents, escalating the crisis, a situation that now necessitated ECOWAS' intervention.