Citizens of Mali protest during the ECOWAS meeting where the Mali crisis and Guinea-Bissau coup were discussed in Abidjan on April 26, 2012. The regional group is set to deploy troops in both countries., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ECOWAS calls for unity govt in Mali as crisis deepens
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 00:00 From Oghogho Obayuwana, Abuja News - National
THE Contact Group of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Mali has called for a government of national unity to implement the road map for a peaceful end to the crisis in the country.
The government of national unity is also expected to restore the territorial integrity of Mali and the organisation of fair, transparent and credible presidential election at the end of ongoing 12-month transitional period.
The new line of thinking is coming just as Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and President of Cote d’Ivoire, His Excellency Alassane Dramane Ouattara reaffirmed the region’s “uncompromising resolve “to return Mali to constitutional rule.
An explanatory note of the summaries of special decisions at the second Meeting in Ouagadougou which ended at the weekend and made available to The Guardian yesterday by the ECOWAS commission in Abuja said heads of State of the Seven-nation Contact Group urged stakeholders in Mali, including political leaders and Civil Society are 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.
But 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 maintained while demanding that full investigation be conducted on the 21st May 2012 physical attack on President Traore and the perpetrators brought to book.
A strong demand was also made by the contact group to the effect that all persons arbitrarily detained be immediately released. It also called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) 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 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.
Affirming that the “territorial integrity and sovereignty of Mali, and the secularity of the State and religious freedom are non-negotiable,” they 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.
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 through dialogue.
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.
On the way forward, The Contact Group noted that given the protracted nature of the conflict, ECOWAS should 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.
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.”
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, while calling 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.
Meanwhile, the Contact Group leaders have appealed to all stakeholders in the Malian crisis for a total cessation of hostilities before the holy month of Ramadan. 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 the same vein, armed groups occupying the North of the country, were told to immediately halt the destruction of historical monuments in Timbuktu. The International Community was requested in this regard to set up a special fund for the restoration and preservation of the monuments that are classified as world heritage sites.
ECOWAS Heads of State and government had earlier warned that those who may seek to oppose the smooth running of the transition and ECOWAS decisions in Mali will in due course, be liable to individual and collective sanctions.