President Muhammadu Buhari has called for stiffer sanctions on the new military regime in the Republic of Mali to force a speedy return to democratic rule in the country.
This was part of President Buhari’s position at a virtual Extraordinary Session of the Economic Community of West Africa States’ (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government on the socio-political situation in Mali, held on Thursday.
The President lamented that the situation in Mali is a setback for regional diplomacy, which, according to him, pose a threat to the peace and security of the West African sub region.
While condemning the Malian military for breaching the very letter and spirit of the ECOWAS protocol on good governance and democracy, he charged leaders of the sub region to ensure that the breach of protocol in Mali does not survive.
He, however, called for, among other things, the unconditional release of the ousted President of the country, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, his Prime Minister and all other government functionaries held with him by the military.
He commended the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and other international bodies for condemning the military coup in Mali, urging them to work with ECOWAS in restoring peace and order in the country by insisting on the supremacy of constitutional provisions.
“The action of the Military runs counter to the letter and spirit of ECOWAS Protocol on good governance and democracy in which unconstitutional change of governments is prohibited.
“The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government should not allow this dastardly act to stand. Nigeria stands by the provisions of the Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy.
“Mali has been in political turmoil since the results of the Parliamentary elections were announced in March this year. ECOWAS interventions, through series of efforts by Ministers, the Special Envoy and Chief Mediator and a group of Heads of State of our Organization as well as an Extraordinary Summit did not yield positive results. Today, Mali has not only descended into political chaos, but also socio-economic and security disaster with potential tragic consequences to Mali and the sub-region.
“I am pleased that ECOWAS, EU, UN and France issued strongly worded statements against the action of the Malian military. The events in Mali are great setbacks for regional diplomacy which have grave consequences for the peace and security of West Africa. I am pleased therefore, that this Extraordinary Summit, holding to discuss pathways to the debacle we face today in Mali, is most timely and appropriate.
“The closure of borders already called for by ECOWAS should be our first line of action. We need to isolate series of sanctions-regimes that can create and sustain sufficient pressures on the military to force a return to constitutional governance. The critical issues for resolution in the Malian crisis had been aptly captured as the four-point pathways to peace. Within that context, and if all parties to the crisis were to abide by those recommendations, the developments now on ground would have been avoided.
“The action of the military in Mali has regrettably hoisted on us as a sub-region, the need to decide the options that will be consistent with the provisions of the Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy, which ECOWAS, AU and the UN subscribe to. In this context therefore, Nigeria believes that President Keita and other detainees should be released unconditionally and with immediate effect.
“Furthermore, we strongly support the efforts of our Chairman, President Mahamadou Issoufou, for wider, regional and continental consultations with ECOWAS, AU and UN in adopting strong measures to promoting early restoration of constitutional order, peace and stability in Mali.
“Military involvement in governance, in whatever guise, is an aberration that has no place in managing the business of government that suspends the Constitution and with it, democratic institutions. It is time for the unconstitutional “authority” in Mali to act responsibly and do the needful by heeding to the above recommendations.
“A politically stable Mali is paramount and crucial to the stability of the sub-region. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN should not stand by, while the situation deteriorates. Thus far, their strong statements of condemnation are sincerely appreciated and I urge them to continue to walk this route together with us until sanity returns to Mali with the restoration of Civil Administration”, he said.
Among the Declarations of the extraordinary session were: firmness on the restoration of Constitutional order; release of President Keita and all those arrested; stoppage of economic relations with Mali, with exceptions granted to staple foods, fuel and medication, for the sake of the people; continued engagement with all parties to the crisis, while the Special Envoy appointed to mediate, former President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, along with Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of ECOWAS Commission, are to visit Mali to convey the decisions of the West African leaders.