ECOWAS leaders canvass support for successful political transitions in Mali, Guinea-Bissau

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - ECOWAS leaders have called for international support for the success of the ongoing political transitions in two of its member-nations, Mali and Guinea-Bissau, following security and political crises in both countries.

They made the call at the opening of two-day mid-year summit of the regional bloc in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Wednesday.

Host President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria recalled the progress made by ECOWAS in collaboration with the international community in resolving the crises.

He appealed for intensified assistance to bridge the financial gap of US$25 million for the provision of critical logistical support, particularly air assets and deployment of international and national observers for Mali’s 28 July elections.

On Guinea Bissau, he urged ECOWAS leaders to ''bring pressure to bear on the African Union and the EU to recognise the Transitional Government and lift the sanctions” on the country, to allow the resumption of bilateral cooperation with the international community.

The Nigerian President also proposed that the summit consider a donors conference in early September to raise funds for the conduct of the November 2013 election in Guinea Bissau, where ECOWAS has a military mission, ECOMIB, and also supports a Defence and Security Sector Reform Programme.

Speaking in a similar vein, ECOWAS Chairman and President of Cote d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara called for the consolidation of the encouraging results from regional initiatives in both countries, citing the 1 July re-hating of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to the UN Mission, MINUSMA, and the 18 June peace agreement by Malian stakeholders to pave way for presidential elections on 28 July.

He noted similar progress and stabilisation of the situation in Guinea Bissau ahead of national elections fixed for next November.

The ECOWAS chairman expressed gratitude to the international community and partners - including the UN, African Union, EU, France, Chad and the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries, (CPLP) - for their support and solidarity.

At his behest, the meeting observed a minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the fight against terrorism and insecurity in Mali, Nigeria and Niger.

Also speaking, ECOWAS Commission President Kadré Ouédraogo said the “vision, pragmatism and courage” demonstrated by regional leaders in managing the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau have yielded tremendous results.

“Security has now been restored to the region thanks to your decision to say 'No' to terrorism in West Africa,” he said, adding that the recent terrorist attacks in Niger “call for eternal vigilance,” and “constitute a reminder of the need for the region and the international community to relentlessly pursue efforts to combat this scourge.”

The president also called for introspection and retrospection in order to draw lessons from the management of the Malian crisis and “strengthen our regional strategies.”

He said the international community’s contribution remains critical to the success of the transitional process in Guinea Bissau, particularly “the lifting of sanctions imposed on the country,” adding that ECOWAS “will leave no stone unturned in building a consensus around the objectives of finding a way out of the crisis.”

The summit also received goodwill messages from the African Union Commission and the UN.

The AU Commission’s Special Representative for Mali and the Sahel, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, attributed the progress in Mali to the engagement of Malians, ECOWAS, the AU and other partners, in collaboration with the rest of the international community.

For his part, the UN Special Representative for West Africa, Ambassador Said Djinnit, commended the “efforts made by ECOWAS to address the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau, and to sustain the engagement of regional and international partners in seeking lasting solution to these crises.”

In addition to the political and security situations in Mali and Guinea Bissau, the mid-year summit is also considering the memorandum on the expansion of the membership of the ECOWAS Commission from nine to 15 and the allocation of statutory positions to Member States.
-0- PANA SEG 18July2013

18 july 2013 09:06:15

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