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| By Maureen Chigbo | Nov, 19, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT
THE leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, have realised that if the lingering crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau, has to end soon, the stick diplomacy approach has to be used.
ECOWAS leaders in Abuja, November 10, adopted a harmonised Concept of Operations for deploying an African-led international force in Mali. The leaders requested the African Union Peace and Security Council to endorse same for onward transmission to the UN within the 45-day deadline of the UN Security Council Resolution 2071.[caption id="attachment_566" align="alignright" width="300"] ECOWAS Leaders after the Summit[/caption]
A communiqué at the end of their one-day extra-ordinary summit on Mali, said the regional leaders urged the UN Security Council to examine the concept in order to authorise the deployment of an international military force in Mali, in conformity with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. The concept was developed by military experts from ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, the UN and other partners during a meeting in Bamako and subsequently reviewed by the regional chiefs of defence staff at their meeting held also in Mali before the ministers of the mediation and security council considered it during a one day meeting in Abuja, November 9.
The communiqué instructed the ECOWAS commission to maintain a stand-by force “in a high state of readiness for imminent deployment, and urged member states to concretise their commitments to provide military and logistical contributions to the ECOWAS military efforts.” The leaders acknowledged that Mali should play a lead role in the military and diplomatic efforts to restore constitutional order, as well as maintain the unity and territorial integrity of the country. According to the leaders, ECOWAS should lead in the deployment of the African-led international force, particularly in relation to the command of the force and resource mobilisation in close cooperation with the African Union and the UN.
The leaders decision is coming against the statement by Cheick Modib Diarra, interim President of Mali, that “the transitional roadmap will be unveiled within the next few days,” They urged the government to expedite action in this regard towards ensuring the restoration of full state control throughout the territory, and the holding of free, fair and transparent elections in the course of the transition. The regional leaders reiterated that the interim president, prime minister and other members of the transitional government should not be eligible to contest the next presidential election in Mali.
On Guinea-Bissau, the regional leaders strongly condemned the failed coup attempt in the country on October 21, and denounced any recourse to violence and any unconstitutional means of expressing political grievances. They called on the transitional authorities to ensure respect for the rule of law and human rights in the investigations and eventual prosecution on this matter. They welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding on the Defence and Security Sector Reform Programme between the ECOWAS Commission and the Guinea-Bissau authorities, and urged the commission to take necessary measures to ensure immediate commencement of its implementation. The summit urged the AU and other partners to actively participate in the process, and expressed appreciation to the regional troops with the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau and troop-contributing countries for their efforts.
At the summit, Alassance Ouattara, the ECOWAS current chair and president of Cote d’Ivoire, said “While we engage in dialogue and negotiations with some groups that control northern Mali, we will continue with preparations for military action against terrorist and criminal groups that are holding the population hostage in northern Mali.” He said the priority now is for the mobilisation of efforts for the adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution under Chapter 7 authorising the deployment of force for the stabilisation of Mali.
President Goodluck Jonathan said “what have been happening in Guinea-Bissau and Mali these past several months go against our collective vision of a peaceful, stable and economically prosperous region.” “The long-suffering peoples of Guinea Bissau and Mali will be looking up to us to end their nightmares and open the door of security and prosperity to them,” he said adding “We must not fail them.”
Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, President of the ECOWAS commission, said the Mali crisis constituted not only a serious challenge to the country and the region, but a great risk to international peace and security. He commended the presence of representatives of Algeria, Mauritania, Chad, Libya and Morocco at the summit as a demonstration of friendship, solidarity and great interest of these countries on the issue of regional of international security.
The UN and the African Union representatives gave goodwill messages to the regional leaders, pledging their respective organisation’s commitment and support to the ECOWAS initiatives.
However, Emmanuel Nadingar, Chadian prime minister, praised the regional efforts and stressed the need for the use of negotiation while military option remains the last resort in ending the crisis in Mali.
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