A summit was held to discuss the crisis bedeviling Mali.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, on Sunday adopted a harmonized concept of operations for the deployment an African-led international force in Mali.
A Communiqué at the end of a one-day extra-ordinary summit on Mali, also requested the African Union Peace and Security Council to endorse the proposal for onward transmission to the United Nations within the 45-day deadline of the UN Security Council Resolution 2071.
Urging the UN Security Council to examine the concept with a view to authorizing the deployment of the international military force in Mali in conformity with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the regional leaders reiterated their instruction to the ECOWAS Commission to maintain the ECOWAS Stand-by Force “in a high state of readiness for imminent deployment.”
Member States were asked to concretize their commitments to provide military and logistical contributions to the ECOWAS military efforts to resolve the crisis in the country.
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 also held in Mali.
The summit acknowledged the lead role of Mali in the military and diplomatic efforts to restore constitutional order as well as the unity and territorial integrity of the country, stressing the leadership role of ECOWAS in the deployment of the African-led international force, particularly in relation to the command of the force and resource mobilization in close cooperation with the African Union and the UN.
Noting the statement of the Interim President of Mali that “the transitional roadmap will be unveiled within the next few days,” the leaders urged the government to expedite action 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 their decision that the Interim President, Prime Minister, and other members of the Transitional Government shall not be eligible to contest the next presidential election in Mali.
On Guinea-Bissau, the regional leaders strongly condemned the October 21 failed coup attempt in the country and condemned any recourse to violence and any unconstitutional means of expressing political grievances, adding that the transitional authorities must ensure respect for the rule of law and human rights in the investigations and eventual prosecutions 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.
Current ECOWAS Chair and President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, 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 mobilization of efforts for the adoption of a UN Security Council Resolution under Chapter 7 authorizing the deployment of force for the stabilization of Mali.
Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan said “what has 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 people 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. “We must not fail them.”
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Ouedraogo, briefed the regional leaders on progress of regional initiatives in conjunction with partners, such the African Union, the EU, UN, among others, noting that 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 region leaders, pledging their respective organization’s commitment and support to the ECOWAS initiatives.
The Chadian Prime Minister, Emmanuel Nadingar, 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.