A joint meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Security Council with the mediation teams on the political crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau is scheduled for tomorrow in Abidjan, the Côte d’Ivoirean capital, to review the proposals for peace.
The meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who will be joined by their counterparts in charge of defence, will consider recommendations by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadire Désiré Ouédraogo, on the regional responses to the evolving situation in Mali where separatist rebel groups have taken over sections of the northern part of the country in the wake of the March 22 2012 military coup d’état. The military takeover has now been reversed.
The ministers are also expected to consider the report of the April 5, 2012 meeting of the regional Chiefs of Defence Staff, including the proposals for possible deployment of a regional force to assist in securing the territorial integrity of Mali against the Tuareg rebellion.
At their extra-ordinary summit in Abidjan on March 29, 2012, ECOWAS leaders served notice of the possible deployment of the regional Standby Force should the rebels refuse to observe a ceasefire and engage in dialogue to resolve the political situation in northern Mali.
The summit also appointed the Burkina Faso President, Blaise Compaoré, as mediator in the Malian crisis, to impress upon the coup makers to revert to constitutional order in the country.
The intervention of regional leaders, including the suspension of Mali from the regional body as well as imposition of legal, economic and diplomatic sanctions, has already resulted in an agreement by the military junta to take the first step towards restoration of constitutional order by handing over to the Speaker of the National Assembly tomorrow.
The Mediation and Security Council ministerial meeting will also consider proposals by President Ouédraogo for resolving the post-election crisis threatening to destabilize Guinea Bissau.
A joint delegation of ECOWAS, African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) officials led by the President of the ECOWAS Commission visited the country on March 31, 2012 to meet with stakeholders as part of regional efforts to douse tension over the disputed outcome of the inconclusive March 18, 2012 presidential election to replace President Bacai Sanha, who died on January 9, 2012.
The dispute has stalled the organization of a run-off poll between the two presidential frontrunners – former Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes, and former President Kumba Yala – with the latter alleging fraud in the first round balloting.