Buhari to ECOWAS leaders: Pressurise Mali to return to civilian rule

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on West African leaders to exert pressure on the military leadership in Mali to ensure that the transition process in the country is not aborted.

Buhari made the call in his statement delivered at the 59th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Accra, Ghana while speaking on the situation in Mali, which was recently suspended from the regional bloc due to a military coup.

“While democracy continues to develop in our sub-region, recent events in Mali are sad reminders that vigilance remains a crucial imperative to protect people’s aspirations to freely choose the form of government they want.

“Pressures are needed to ensure that the transition process in Mali, which is half-way to its conclusion, is not aborted.

“A further slide in Mali could prove catastrophic to the sub-region, considering that about half of that country is unfortunately under the grip of terrorists,” he said.

He appealed to the military leadership in Mali to understand the critical state of their country, which he described as being “clearly under siege.”

While noting that the principal responsibility of the military must be to protect and guarantee the sovereignty of the West African country, President Buhari cautioned them not to perpetuate acts that would facilitate the destabilisation and destruction of Mali.

“I urge our organisation to remain engaged with all stakeholders in Mali through our astute mediator, former President Goodluck Jonathan, who I congratulate warmly for his untiring efforts thus far.

“I encourage him to sustain these efforts to ensure that the transition is completed as scheduled,” he added in a statement issued Saturday by his media aide, Garba Shehu.

On Libya, President Buhari faulted the recent United Nations resolution to expel all foreign fighters in Libya without first ensuring that they are disarmed.

“While this action was aimed at bringing about the sustenance of peace in Libya, non-collaboration with regional stakeholders on this critical decision has now created newer threats to peace, security and stability in the region, which could lead to lack of coordinated management of huge humanitarian crisis across the Sahel, North, Central and West Africa, including the Lake Chad region,” he said.

Buhari, who restated that these regions faced the clear possibility of instability with the invasion of the foreign fighters that are fully armed, said, “It is imperative that ECOWAS leaders at this summit decide how the UN-sub-regional organisations’ partnerships should be reviewed to address the dangers that this UN resolution poses to the region.”

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