Heads of State and Government of the regional grouping, ECOWAS, reaffirmed earlier decisions regarding the crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau following a one-day Extraordinary Summit held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on Thursday, May 3. According to an Executive Mansion release, in a Final Communiqué at the end of the Summit, on the situation in Mali, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government requested the transitional authority to expedite action on the development of a roadmap for the transition, with set timelines for activities leading to the holding of presidential elections and full restoration of constitutional order, including the establishment of a consultative framework on critical issues relating to the implementation of the transition, facilitated by the ECOWAS Mediator.
On the deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) there, the Summit instructed the Commission to hold the Force in readiness for immediate deployment as soon as the Malian authorities make the relevant request. However, the Summit instructed the Commission to define the modalities for military cooperation between the Malian Army and the ESF in view of the deployment.
The Summit renewed calls for the Malian Armed Forces to devote themselves to their responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of the country and the population. The Summit strongly condemned the clashes that began on April 30, in Bamako and deplored their adverse impact on the life and security of the Malian population already traumatized by the recent events in the country. They reminded all parties that any attempt from any quarter to destabilize the transition process shall be liable to targeted sanctions as set out in the Summit Decisions of March 29, 2012.
The Authority expressed gratitude to the Mediator, H.E. Blaise Compaoré, for his relentless efforts in the resolution of the double crisis in Mali and encouraged him to persevere in that direction, including maintaining contacts with the rebellion in the north. The Summit also welcomed the availability of H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to assist the Mediator in the quest for a negotiated solution to the crisis in the North.
On Guinea Bissau, according to the Communiqué, the Summit, after careful consideration of the national context and the positions of the various stakeholders in the crisis, confirmed its previous decision to establish a 12-month transition, during which the following measures shall be taken with the assistance of ECOWAS: a review of legal texts (constitution, electoral code, etc.) to achieve greater efficiency; the reform of the defense and security sector and other reforms, with a view to preparing the ground for the holding of fresh elections.
The Summit recommended that, in order to lead the transition within the framework of the Constitution, the National Assembly renew its leadership, through a vote, whereby the new Speaker of the Assembly elected shall assume the responsibility of Interim President; the new Deputy Speaker becomes the Speaker of the National Assembly; a consensual Prime Minister with full powers shall be designated to lead a broad-based government that shall lead the transition to its conclusion. Both, the Interim President and the transitional Prime Minister shall not be eligible to contest in the envisaged presidential election.
The Summit decided that the ECOWAS Standby Force, in line with the new approved mandate, be deployed to secure the withdrawal of the Angolan Technical Assistance Mission (MISSANG); to ensure the security of the transition, and help in the implementation of the Defense and Security Sector Reform Programme.
The Heads of State and Government welcomed the release of the Prime Minister Mr. Carlos Gomes Junior and the Interim President, Mr. Raimundo Pereira on April 27, and demanded the Military Command to release all other personalities still detained illegally in the country.
The Summit reiterated its firm condemnation of the coup and recalled its principle of “zero tolerance” for power obtained or maintained through unconstitutional means. The Summit reiterated its demand for an immediate return to constitutional rule; and decided to maintain the sanctions imposed until such time all the protagonists accept the modalities for a return to constitutional order.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was among the 11 Heads of State and Government that attended the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit. Other members of the Liberian delegation included the Minister of State Without Portfolio, Ambassador Conmany B. Wesseh; Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassador Sylvester Grigsby; National Security Advisor, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr.; Advisor to the President, Dr. Abdoulaye Dukulé; and Presidential Press Secretary, Jerolinmek M. Piah.