The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has stated that the insistence of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the restoration of a civil rule in Mali, even for the proposed transitional government, is the way to go and will be helpful for democracy and good governance in the sub-region.
Prof Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday, September 15, during an interview with journalists shortly after the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS in Accra, Ghana. Prof. Osinbajo, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, joined other leaders in the sub-region at the meeting presided over by the new ECOWAS Chairman and President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo.
Describing the over 5-hour meeting as very fruitful, the Vice President said, “I think the position of the Authority of Heads of State, (the highest organ of ECOWAS) is very clear, mainly that ECOWAS will not accept a change of government by force and that this will be completely unacceptable. For the purpose of what has happened in Mali, the transitional government must be headed by a civilian, and also the general principle that marks a transition period should be within a maximum of about 18 months.”
The Vice President added, “There was consensus among all of the Heads of State, and I think it is helpful that the position of the Authority of Heads of State is speaking with one voice. And that ECOWAS is united on the most fundamental questions of democracy and good governance.”
The sub-regional body has been involved in peace talks with the key actors in the Mali political crisis which reached a peak with the overthrow of the civilian administration by officers from the country’s Armed Forces, who formed the Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP).
The communique issued after the meeting read, “The objective of the meeting was to allow the leadership of the Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) the opportunity to brief and present to Heads of State and Government the architecture and roadmap for the political transitional arrangement, in conformity with the decisions taken by the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at its Extraordinary Summit via videoconference on 28th August 2020 and its 57th Ordinary Summit on 7th September 2020, in Niamey, Republic of Niger. These decisions called for a 12-month civilian-led transition to be put in place by 15th September 2020.”
The communique added that at the end of the Extraordinary summit, the members of the CNSP, Heads of State and Government made the following decisions:
a. The political transition will be headed by a civilian, in accordance with the decisions of the Authority of ECOWAS. In this regard, both the President and Prime Minister of the transition will be civilians during the entire period. The nomination of these two key personalities will be done immediately.
b. The Transition Vice President provided for in the Transition Charter shall not, under any circumstances, replace the Transition President.
c. The CNSP will be dissolved immediately the civilian transition is put in place.
d. The Heads of State and Government took note that the length of the political transition will be 18months maximum with effect from the 15th of September 2020.
e. Once a civilian-led transition is put in place, ECOWAS will fully accompany the Republic of Mali towards the restoration of constitutional order, in line with the relevant protocols of ECOWAS;
f. With regards to sanctions, in line with the decisions of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, such sanctions will be lifted immediately when the Transition President and the Prime Minister are effectively designated.
Asides from President Akufo-Addo and Prof. Osinbajo, other leaders present at the meeting included Presidents of Senegal, Macky Sall; Ivory Coast, Mr. Alassane Ouattara; Togo, Mr Faure Gnassingbe; Faso, Mr. Roch-Marc Christian Kabore; Guinea, Prof. Alpha Conde; Niger, Mr Mahamadou Issoufou; ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator to Mali Crisis, Former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou; among other diplomats and senior officials.
The Heads of State and Government also expressed their gratitude to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and encouraged him to continue his mediation efforts and accompany the civilian-led transition administration to ensure a swift return to constitutional order in Mali.