Tag Archives: ECOWAS

Mali crisis: Nigeria’s VP, Osinbajo attends ECOWAS summit in Ghana.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has departed Nigeria for Ghana to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Osinbajo, who is representing President Muhammadu Buhari, at the summit will join other leaders in the sub-region to discuss the political crisis in Mali and the security situation in the sub-region at large.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.

According to the statement, the Vice President will also meet with representatives of the Nigerian community in Ghana to discuss issues bothering on their wellbeing in the West African country.

Accompanying the Vice President is the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb Zubairu Dada.

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He is expected back in Abuja today at the end of his engagements in Ghana.

Following the coup that broke out in Mali on August 18, ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and the United States have condemned the action.

File photo of Nigeria vice president, prof yemi osinbajo

The regional bloc suspended the country pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.

Similarly, ECOWAS delegation headed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in the Malian capital, Bamako on August 20 to push for a speedy return to civilian rule after a military coup in the troubled nation.

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The delegation met with the members of the new junta as well as ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after a mutiny dealing another deep blow to a country already struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.

Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.

“ECOWAS appreciates what is happening in Mali and ECOWAS wants the best for the country,” Jonathan said after his arrival.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Buhari attends ECOWAS summit.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has attended the second extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government over the socio-political situation in Mali.

The summit had in attendance, all Presidents in the region alongside the ECOWAS President, Jean Claude Kassi Brou.

Noble Reporters Media gathered that the discussions centered on finding a lasting solution to the political instability in Mali.

The government of President Ibrahim Keita was recently toppled in a bloodless coup earning the country sanctions from ECOWAS.

The military junta in place, National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), requested a 3-year term in office after which they would return the country to civilian rule.

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Several talks between the new Junta and ECOWAS for a return to civilian rule ended in deadlocks after a high-level delegation led by former President Goodluck Jonathan to Bamako failed to secure its demand.

There hasn’t been a response to this request yet from ECOWAS, but it is expected that this will be discussed at this extraordinary summit.

Meanwhile, Mali’s military leader hinted on Thursday that former President Ibrahim Keita had been freed after he was detained in the August 18 coup.

Physically present at the statehouse in Abuja to attend the meeting were the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; alongside the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Defence ‎Bashir Magashi and the Director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Buhari hails ECOWAS 12-months ultimatum for transition to civilian rule

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President Muhammadu Buhari has given his backing to the declaration by the Economic Community of West African States demanding a 12-month transition process to civilian rule in Mali.

President Buhari who attended the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments virtual meeting on Friday, charged the military junta to set an acceptable timetable for a return to democratic government.

In his remarks quoted in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, President Buhari maintained that Mali is in a fragile state which poses an imminent danger to the citizens and the ECOWAS sub-region.

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He added that the military leadership should be flexible in negotiations by putting the interest of all Malians and the harmony of the sub-region into consideration.

“For the people of Mali, specifically the leadership, embracing Democracy and Good Governance is crucial to the country’s political stability. Mali cannot, therefore, afford to stand alone, hence the need to come to terms with the realities of an acceptable and workable transition compact that inspires the confidence of all Malians.

“With regards to other areas being negotiated, Nigeria believes that the people of Mali and the military leaders need to appreciate the fragility of their country and the imminent danger which it poses to the citizens of Mali as well as the ECOWAS sub-region, “the President said.

He urged the military leadership to focus on securing the country, faced with severe security threats from its northern part, instead of an incursion into governance.

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President Buhari celebrated the news that former President of Mali, Ibrahim Keita, has been released from detention and is in good condition. He however called on the military leaders to free the remaining senior officials still in detention.

“I urge the military leadership to consider: the immediate release of all the remaining senior Government officials in detention, without pre-conditions; a transition process, to be completed in not more than 12 months, and which shall include the representatives of Malian stakeholders.

“This is a critical consideration for the new government to enjoy the cooperation and collaboration of regional and international community, and to allow the easing of sanctions imposed on Mali.”

The Nigerian President added that it is critical for the new government to enjoy the necessary cooperation.

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“In this connection Nigeria will, alongside ECOWAS, provide necessary logistics support to facilitate the conduct of elections to re-establish democratic governance in Mali.”

President Buhari thanked Dr Goodluck Jonathan for mediating in the crisis, and commended Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic for convening the Extraordinary Summit.

The government of President Ibrahim Keita was recently toppled in a bloodless coup earning the country sanctions from ECOWAS.

The military junta in place requested a 3-year term in office after which they would return the country to civilian rule


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: ECOWAS talk with Military ends in deadlock.

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Talks between West African nations and Mali’s new junta ended on Monday without a deal on how the country should return to civilian rule following last week’s coup, the two sides said.

Separately, they also said that ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita — whose return to office had been initially demanded by the regional bloc ECOWAS — no longer wished to resume duties.

The August 18 coup triggered shockwaves among Mali’s neighbours, fearing that one of the region’s most volatile countries would spiral into chaos.

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ECOWAS — the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States — sent a high-level delegation to Bamako on Saturday, led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, to press its demands for the “immediate return to constitutional order.”

The talks have focussed on the transition to civilian rule.

“There were discussions on both sides, given that at this stage nothing has been set down, nothing has been decided, and that as far as we are concerned, the final architecture of the transition will be discussed and defined by us,” said the junta’s spokesman, Colonel Ismael Wague.

Jonathan said: “We have agreed on a number of issues, but there are some issues that we have not agreed. So on those issues we told the military officers the thinking of ECOWAS and we asked them to go and review.”


#Newsworthy…

Jonathan arrives Mali with ECOWAS delegation.

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A delegation of West African leaders headed by former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has arrived in the Malian capital, Bamako on a mission to try to push for a speedy return to civilian rule after a military coup in the troubled nation.

The delegation plans to meet members of the new junta as well as ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after a mutiny on Tuesday, dealing another deep blow to a country already struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.

Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.

“ECOWAS appreciates what is happening in Mali and ECOWAS wants the best for the country,” Jonathan said after his arrival.

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“We’re going to discuss with all stakeholders and I think at the end of the day we’ll come out with something that is good for the country, good for ECOWAS and good for the international community.”

A delegation official said they would meet members of the junta and later Keita, who is being held with prime minister Boubou Cisse in Kati, a military base northwest of Bamako where the coup was unleashed.

Adding to the international pressure, the United States on Friday suspended military aid to Mali, with no further training or support of the Mali armed forces.

Colonel Malick Diaw (C), vice-president of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) smiles at a crowd of supporters as he arrives escorted by Malian soldiers at the Independence square in Bamako, on August 21, 2020. ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

‘We won’
But thousands of jubilant Malians took to the streets of Bamako on Friday to celebrate the toppling of Keita, who was reelected in 2018 but became the focus of widespread discontent.

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The crowds gathered in Bamako’s central square draped in the national flag and blasting on vuvuzela horns.

The rally, originally organised as an anti-Keita protest by a loose coalition that has led months of mass rallies against him, was recast to “celebrate the victory of the Malian people”.

“I am overjoyed! We won,” said Mariam Cisse, 38.

Speaking at the rally Ismael Wague, spokesman for the junta which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, paid tribute to the public.

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“We merely completed the work that you began and we recognise ourselves in your fight,” he said.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) walks at the International Airport in Bamako upon his arrival on August 22, 2020 next to by Malick Diaw (4R), the Vice President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

‘Transitional council’
The junta has said it welcomes the ECOWAS visit but has not talked of restoring Keita to power.

“A transitional council, with a transitional president who is going to be either military or civilian” would be appointed, Wague told France 24 television Thursday.

Keita won election in a landslide in 2013, presenting himself as a unifying figure in a fractured country, and was re-elected in 2018 for another five-year term.

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But he failed to make headway against the jihadist revolt that has left swathes of the country in the hands of armed Islamists and ignited ethnic violence in the country’s volatile centre.

Thousands of UN and French troops, along with soldiers from five Sahel countries, have been deployed to try to stem the bloodshed.

In a sign of the continuing challenge facing the country, four soldiers were killed by an explosive device in the center of the country.

The ECOWAS visit to Mali comes after the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country said a human rights team had gained access to the ousted president and other detainees on Thursday.

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A junta member said the coup leaders had released former economy minister Abdoulaye Daffe and Sabane Mahalmoudou, Keita’s private secretary, calling the move “proof that we respect human rights”.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (2L) walks at the International Airport in Bamako upon his arrival on August 22, 2020 next to by Malick Diaw (L), the Vice President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People). ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

While Keita and Cisse have no television, radio or phone, other detainees are in a training centre, where they are sleeping on mattresses and have a TV, according to witnesses to the visit.

The 75-year-old ousted president “looked tired but relaxed,” they said, describing his conditions as “acceptable”.

Tuesday’s coup was the second in eight years, and has heightened concern over regional stability as its jihadist insurgency that now threatens neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Jonathan to lead ECOWAS envoys on search for coup solutions.

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to lead a team of ECOWAS envoys to Mali for talks following the recent coup in the country.

According to a member of the new junta and an ECOWAS source, the leaders are expected to arrive in the West African country on Saturday.

The source described the mission to Bamako as aiming “to help the search for solutions,” days after mutinying soldiers took over power in Mali.

“We will receive the ECOWAS delegation with pleasure… it is important to talk to our brothers,” a junta official in the country told AFP on Friday.

Recently, there have been a series of protests by Malians who took to the streets of the nation’s capital despite rainfall and pleas from mediators to stay home, demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

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Amid the lingering unrest in the country, Keita was overthrown on Tuesday by mutinying troops, who took him, Mali’s Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, as well as other senior government officials into custody.

Avoiding Bloodshed
The coup has sent shockwaves around the West African sub-region, sparking fears that one of its most volatile states could collapse.

(File) Former President Goodluck Jonathan is seen in Bamako, the capital of Mali on July 23, 2020. AFP/MICHELE CATTANI.

President Keita, who seemed to have bowed to pressure, said on Wednesday that he had stepped down to avoid “bloodshed”.

Two days after the Malian leader was taken into custody, the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it would dispatch a high-level delegation to the country.

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The regional body explained that this would ” ensure the immediate return of constitutional order” in Mali, saying it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

In their various reactions, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and other West African leaders condemned the action of the soldiers and demanded that Keita be restored as president.

The coup was also condemned by the African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations, among others.

On Thursday, UN human rights officials gained access to President Keita and the others, although the junta said it had released two prisoners, retaining 17 others.


#Newsworthy

Mali crisis: Buhari joins ECOWAS leaders to discuss.

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday joined other West African leaders to discuss the military coup in Mali that ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The meeting, which was scheduled to start at 11 am, was held virtually under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Noble Reporters Media can confirm.

President Buhari participated from the Council Chambers at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

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Present with him were the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada and Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (Rtd).

Others were the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd); Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Abubakar Ahmed Rufai and the two Presidential Spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu.

FILE: President Buhari participates at a Virtual Meeting of the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

ECOWAS has strongly condemned the change of government in member state Mali.

“The Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will hold an extraordinary summit on the socio-political situation in Mali on Thursday,” the regional body said in a statement on Wednesday.

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ECOWAS had been mediating in the crisis before Tuesday’s coup.

Malian army officer Colonel Assimi Goita on Wednesday announced himself as the coup leader.

The African Union (AU) also on Wednesday suspended Mali a day after the coup.

The AU joined other international bodies and nations, including the US and European Union, to condemn the coup and demand the release of the detained leaders.


#Newsworthy…

Mali awakes military rule after Boubacar’s resignation.

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his resignation comes in order to curb bloodshed.


Mali awoke on Wednesday to a new chapter in its troubled history after rebel military leaders forced President Boubacar Keita from office, prompting its West African neighbours to threaten border closures and sanctions against the coup leaders.

Keita, embattled by months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency, said he had resigned to avoid bloodshed.

There were few obvious traces of the previous day’s drama in the capital Bamako — there were no troops on the streets despite the coup leaders announcing a night-time curfew.

The burnt-out home of the former justice minister after an attack by protesters was one of the few visible signs of the overthrow.

Jubilant crowds had cheered the rebels on Tuesday as they arrived in Bamako, where they detained Keita along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of both men as diplomats in New York said the Security Council would hold emergency talks on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether Keita was still in custody on Wednesday at the Kati military base — a facility seized by the mutineers that was also the site of the 2012 coup that brought him to power.

Armed members of the FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) are celebrated by the population as they parade at Independence Square in Bamako on August 18, 2020, after rebel troops seized Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis. STRINGER / AFP

The coup leaders appeared on television overnight to pledge a political transition and new elections within a “reasonable time”.

Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ismael Wague said he and his fellow officers had “decided to take responsibility in front of the people and of history”.

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There were no reports of casualties during the military takeover but the coup leaders announced a curfew and border closures, in effect sealing off the country.

– Jihadist insurgency –

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to condemn the mutiny, his office saying that he still supported mediation efforts by other West African states.

Mali is the cornerstone of French-led efforts to roll back jihadists in the Sahel, and its neighbours are anxious to avoid the country sliding into chaos.

Colonel Wague said “all past agreements” would be respected, including Mali’s support for anti-jihadist missions in the region.

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“MINUSMA (the UN force in Mali), (France’s) Barkhane force, the G5 Sahel, Takuba (a European special-forces initiative) remain our partners,” he said.

The coup leaders also remain “committed to the Algiers process,” a 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and armed groups in the north of the country, he said.

Swathes of Mali’s territory are outside of the control of the central authorities.

Years of fighting have failed to brake an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since emerging in 2012.

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The failure fuelled frustrations with Keita’s rule and tensions flared in April after the government held long-delayed parliamentary elections, the results of which are still disputed.

– Sanctions threat –

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last month suggested the formation of a unity government while offering continued support for Keita, but the compromise was slapped down by the opposition.

ECOWAS condemned the coup in a statement, pledging to close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

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Further afield, Morocco on Wednesday stressed the need for “stability” in Mali, calling for “responsible dialogue, respect for constitutional order and the preservation of democratic gains.”

The coup coincided with opposition plans to resume protests against Keita.

The June 5 Movement, named after the date of its first protest, focussed public anger against the leader and made increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

Its campaign veered into crisis last month when 11 people were killed during three days of unrest sparked by a demonstration.


#Newsworthy…

Update: ECOWAS suspends Mali, imposes sanctions over coup.

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The West Africa bloc ECOWAS on Tuesday condemned a military putsch in Mali and pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.

Rebel soldiers arrested Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon following weeks of political tension in the country.

The dramatic move followed the seizure of an army base near the capital Bamako that morning.

In a statement, the Economic Community for West African States said that its members would close land and air borders to Mali and pledged to demand sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

“ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists,” said the statement, which was originally published in French.

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Mali has been in the grip of a deep political impasse since June, with President Keita facing increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

The opposition June 5 Movement, named for the date of its first protest, has been channelling deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and a brutal jihadist conflict.

President Buhari with President of Togo H.E. Faure Gnassingbe, President of Burkina Faso H.E. Roch Marc Kabore, President of Guinea Conakry H.E. Alpha Conde and President of Gambia H.E. Adama Barrow during the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja on 21st Dec 2019

The opposition alliance’s anti-Keita campaign veered into crisis last month when at least 11 people were killed over three days of unrest that followed a protest.

In an effort to avoid chaos in notoriously unstable Mali, ECOWAS then stepped in to mediate.

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The bloc suggested the formation of a unity government and other measures late last month, but stuck by Keita.

But the June 5 Movement has repeatedly spurned compromise proposals, and has continued to demand Keita’s departure.

The political opposition declared a new phase of anti-government rallies on Monday.

Keita, 75, is currently being held by rebel soldiers outside of the capital.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Opposition regret ECOWAS plan, insist Boubacar quit

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A protest movement that has sprung up in Mali, shaking President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s grip on power, on Tuesday rejected a compromise put forward by regional leaders and insisted that he quit.

In a statement, the so-called June 5 Movement said it “demands the resignation of Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his regime more than ever,” accusing them of bearing “full responsibility” for Mali’s crisis.

The announcement came a day after heads of the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS stood by Keita and urged him to forge a unity government and resolve an election dispute that has fuelled the protests.

(From L) Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, President Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Macky Sall, President of Senegal deliver a speech after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Buhari attends virtual ECOWAS meeting

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President Muhammadu Buhari is at a virtual meeting of the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

The main agenda for this virtual meeting is the political situation in Mali.

In attendance alongside the president is the Secretary-General of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the National Security Adviser Mr. Monguno, the Chief of Staff to the president Mr. Gambari, as well as former President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Muhammadu Buhari participates in a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) on June 23, 2020.

West African Heads-of-State in attendance include George Weah of Liberia, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, and President Keita of Mali.

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Also present is the ECOWAS Commission President, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

The media was excused as the closed-door session got underway.

No-deal summit
West African leaders ended a day-long summit in Mali on Thursday without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.

The Imam Mahmoud Dicko (C), influential leader of the opposition coalition, walks in the Sheraton hotel in Bamako on July 23, 2020 after a meeting with the West African leaders who gathered in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Five of the region’s leaders met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation, as a long-running jihadist insurgency threatens to throw the country into chaos.

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But the intervention failed to seal a deal and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — at the talks along with the leaders of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria — said Western African bloc ECOWAS would hold a summit on Monday.

“Nothing has moved for the movement,” said one of the protest leaders, imam Mahmoud Dicko, after holding talks with the presidents.

Earlier as the foreign leaders arrived on Thursday morning, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside the airport.

“We’re here to demand IBK’s resignation and ensure our comrades who have been killed are not forgotten,” said Yaya Sylla, a young protester, using the acronym by which Mali’s leader is known.

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The June 5 Movement, named after the date when the protests began, has tapped into deep anger over Keita’s perceived failure to tackle the dire economy, corruption and the eight-year jihadist revolt.

Malians are also incensed at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

The summit came on the heels of a five-day mediation mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday without reconciling the two sides.

The West African leaders discussed proposed solutions that had been crafted in behind-the-scenes talks between the president and opposition this week.

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The Institute for Security Studies think-tank warned on Thursday that there was an “unfavourable prejudice” towards the presidents, however, with some perceiving the leaders as protecting their own narrow interests.

Macky Sall, President of Senegal, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

“The search for solutions will have to take into account the need to improve the daily lives of Malians,” the think-tank said.

Deepening crisis
Keita, who came to power in 2013, has come under increasing pressure to end Mali’s long-running jihadist conflict.

The poor nation of some 20 million people has been struggling to contain an insurgency that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since 2012, despite the presence of foreign troops.

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In the latest violence, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali on Thursday, according to France’s presidency and the French army.

But much of the current tension was sparked in April, when the constitutional court tossed out 31 results from the parliamentary elections, benefiting Keita’s party and sparking protests.

Tensions then ratcheted up into a crisis on July 10 when an anti-Keita rally organised by the June 5 Movement turned violent.

Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured in the worst political unrest Mali had seen in years.

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Seeking a way out, ECOWAS mediators suggested forming a new unity government including opposition members and appointing new constitutional court judges who could potentially re-examine disputed election results.

But the June 5 Movement had already rejected any outcome that did not involve Keita’s departure.

Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Possible compromise?
Despite the apparent failure of the ECOWAS mediators, the president’s camp and opposition figures had quietly been talking all week and the June 5 Movement notably suspended protests ahead of the forthcoming Eid festival.

Brema Ely Dicko, a sociologist at the University of Bamako, had suggested the opposition might be prepared to accept Prime Minister Boubou Cisse’s resignation instead of Keita’s.

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“The M5-RFP is obliged to keep up the pressure to at least get something,” he said, using the opposition coalition’s formal acronym.

(From L) Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, President Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Macky Sall, President of Senegal deliver a speech after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. – In an exceptional one-day summit, the presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

A European diplomat in Bamako who declined to be named said that the opposition may have overplayed its hand in demanding Keita’s departure.

“Nobody wants to open the door to a period of political instability in Mali, which remains the epicentre of the Sahel security crisis,” he added.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: ECOWAS summit ends in dreadlock

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The presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation.

West African leaders ended a day-long summit in Mali on Thursday without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.

Five of the region’s leaders met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation, as a long-running jihadist insurgency threatens to throw the country into chaos.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (L) and the Imam Mahmoud Dicko (C), influential leader of the opposition coalition, greet each other after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)
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But the intervention failed to seal a deal and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — at the talks along with the leaders of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria — said Western African bloc ECOWAS would hold a summit on Monday.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

“Nothing has moved for the movement,” said one of the protest leaders, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, after holding talks with the presidents.

Earlier as the foreign leaders arrived on Thursday morning, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside the airport.

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“We’re here to demand IBK’s resignation and ensure our comrades who have been killed are not forgotten,” said Yaya Sylla, a young protester, using the acronym by which Mali’s leader is known.

The June 5 Movement, named after the date when the protests began, has tapped into deep anger over Keita’s perceived failure to tackle the dire economy, corruption and the eight-year jihadist revolt.

The presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation.

Malians are also incensed at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.

The summit came on the heels of a five-day mediation mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday without reconciling the two sides.

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The West African leaders discussed proposed solutions that had been crafted in behind-the-scenes talks between the president and opposition this week.

The Institute for Security Studies think-tank warned on Thursday that there was an “unfavourable prejudice” towards the presidents, however, with some perceiving the leaders as protecting their own narrow interests.

“The search for solutions will have to take into account the need to improve the daily lives of Malians,” the think-tank said.

President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo (C) arrives at the Sheraton hotel where West African leaders will gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali, in Bamako on July 23, 2020.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Deepening crisis
Keita, who came to power in 2013, has come under increasing pressure to end Mali’s long-running jihadist conflict.

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The poor nation of some 20 million people has been struggling to contain an insurgency that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since 2012, despite the presence of foreign troops.

In the latest violence, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali on Thursday, according to France’s presidency and the French army.

President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou arrives in Bamako on July 23, 2020, where West African leaders will gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

But much of the current tension was sparked in April, when the constitutional court tossed out 31 results from the parliamentary elections, benefiting Keita’s party and sparking protests.

Tensions then ratcheted up into a crisis on July 10 when an anti-Keita rally organised by the June 5 Movement turned violent.

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Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured in the worst political unrest Mali had seen in years.

Seeking a way out, ECOWAS mediators suggested forming a new unity government including opposition members and appointing new constitutional court judges who could potentially re-examine disputed election results.

But the June 5 Movement had already rejected any outcome that did not involve Keita’s departure.

Macky Sall, President of Senegal, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Possible compromise?
Despite the apparent failure of the ECOWAS mediators, the president’s camp and opposition figures had quietly been talking all week and the June 5 Movement notably suspended protests ahead of the forthcoming Eid festival.

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Brema Ely Dicko, a sociologist at the University of Bamako, had suggested the opposition might be prepared to accept Prime Minister Boubou Cisse’s resignation instead of Keita’s.

“The M5-RFP is obliged to keep up the pressure to at least get something,” he said, using the opposition coalition’s formal acronym.

France’s soldier Tojohasina Razafintsalama, from Tarbes, southern France was killed, “during fighting against armed terrorist groups”, announced the Elysee Palace. (Photo by Handout / FRENCH ARMY / AFP) 

A European diplomat in Bamako who declined to be named said that the opposition may have overplayed its hand in demanding Keita’s departure.

“Nobody wants to open the door to a period of political instability in Mali, which remains the epicentre of the Sahel security crisis,” he added.

Mahamadou Issoufou (C), President of Niger, speaks during a press conference after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. – In an exceptional one-day summit, the presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: We’ll do all in our best – ECOWAS

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Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President Mahamadou Issoufou said the sub-regional organisation will do all it can to mitigate the political crisis in Mali, after many hours of consultations in the nation’s capital, Bamako, on Thursday.

The meeting, attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, Host President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Presidents Machy Sall of Senegal, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, listened to a brief by the ECOWAS Special Envoy, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and leader of the opposition, Imam Mahmoud Dicko and representatives of the opposition alliance, M5 and Civil Society Organisations.

The host President also briefed the Heads of State and government on the socio-political situation in the country, especially the disagreements that spiralled into protests and violence.

Speaking to newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, Issoufou, who is the President of Niger Republic, said an extra-ordinary virtual meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State and government will be held on Monday 26 July 2020, to further deliberate on the issues raised, with a view to finding a lasting solution to the crisis.

He said the sub-regional leaders had already agreed there would be a need for a compromise to protect the peace and integrity of the nation, adding that allowing a political crisis to fester in Mali would affect the security situation in West Africa, especially neighbouring countries.

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The ECOWAS Chairman commended Nigeria’s former President, Jonathan, for accepting to lead an initial mission to the country to broker peace, and make findings, while appreciating all the West African leaders who attended the meeting.

Earlier, the Ghanaian President said that the ECOWAS protocol would be followed, explaining that the democratic tenet adopted by the sub-regional body clearly spells out that a President can only be voted into power, and voted out by-election, except he completes his tenure.

The Ghanaian leader noted that the protocol would be adhered to to ensure safety and peace in the sub-region.


#Newsworthy…

Buhari seek cooperation to fight terrorism among ECOWAS countries

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President Muhammadu Buhari has called for more collaboration among countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to effectively fight terrorism in the region.

President Buhari made this call on Saturday during the graduation ceremony of 181 Senior Course 42 officers at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji in Kaduna State.

The President noted that Nigeria, in partnership with its allies, will not relent until the Boko Haram terrorists in the Lake Chad basin and other insurgency group terrorising the West African subregion and the entire continent are completely decimated.

File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari addresses troops of the Nigerian Army.

Speaking through the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired), President Buhari commended the Armed Forces for their continued prompt responses to the numerous security challenges facing the country.

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He was accompanied by Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and other top military officers.

A total of 181 officers drawn from the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Navy, Police, Paramilitary agencies, and 13 allied students from 10 African countries took part in the 49 weeks senior military course which commenced in August 2019.

The officers had passed through several aspects of training in leadership, public security, command, and staff functions to prepare them for the challenges ahead.


#Newsworthy…

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Nigerian President warns over ECOWAS currency

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday cautioned that the ambition for single regional currency could be in ‘serious jeopardy,’ unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.

President Buhari also expressed concern over the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to replace the CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of member states.

The President delivered Nigeria’s position on the new regional currency at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).

The meeting discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda.

“Your Excellencies, you all are familiar with the history of the Eco thus far, so I will not bore you with that. We reverted to a single-track approach, giving up Eco which is the original idea of the WAMZ so the ECOWAS-wide programme could thrive,” Buhari said at the summit.

“In this regard, we have made remarkable progress including the adoption of the Exchange Rate Regime, the name and model of the common Central Bank and the symbol.

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“We have urged our Ministers towards an expeditious path to success. It, therefore, gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the Member States.

“This is in addition to deviating from the Community Act on consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and our subsequent reinforcing directives.

“I am informed that the French Ministers have approved a bill to reform the CFA Franc and most, if not all of the UEMOA Member States, have already passed legislation in their various Parliaments to that effect.

“It is a matter of concern that a people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion,’’ he said.

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President Buhari assured ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS single currency and urged them to critically consider the recommendations made by the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone from the pitfalls of a questionable union.

He affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty.

According to the president, Nigeria also believes that given the potential contractions and even losses from the global Covid-19 pandemic, member states cannot but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with the set standards.

“We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it.

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“We need to be clear and unequivocal about our position regarding this process. We must also communicate same to the outside world effectively. We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience.

“My dear colleagues, Heads of State and Government, It is obvious that we are at a crossroads.

“We must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal while treating each other with utmost respect. Without these, our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy,’’ he said.

In the light of the caution raised by Nigeria and some other West African countries at the meeting, ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue.


#Newsworthy…

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Top Story: ECOWAS endorses Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has endorsed the candidacy of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been nominated by the President, Buhari to represent Nigeria and West Africa as the director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

In a statement signed by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, it revealed that the organization is fully in support of her nomination.

The statement declared that the endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature by ECOWAS is backed by her academic and over 30 years of experience as a Development Economist.


#Newsworthy…

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