Thursday, June 13, 2024

ECOWAS, Niger to resume talks, leaders threaten force again


…Directs urgent intervention in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso

The Authority of Heads of the Economic Community of West African States on Sunday, resolved to begin talks with Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland also known as the CNSP on a short transition roadmap, establish transition organs and to facilitate the setting up of a transition monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

The goal of the meeting is said to ensure a speedy restoration of constitutional order in the country whose constitutional leadership was toppled in late July 2023.

President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, revealed this when he read the communique at the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.

At Sunday’s meeting, the third since President Bola Tinubu assumed the Chairmanship of the Authority last June, the bloc agreed that the committee will comprise Presidents Faure Gnassingbé of Togo, Julius Bio of Sierra Leone and Patrice Talon of the Republic of Benin.

According to Touray, the bloc will either progressively ease the current sanctions on the Niger Republic if the junta cooperates with these efforts or maintain current sanctions in the event of non-compliance.

The ECOWAS also threatened to request the African Union to impose harsher sanctions on members of the CNSP and their associates even as it readies its standby force for possible military intervention.

Touray said, “The Authority decides to set up a committee of heads of state made up of the President and head of state of the Republic of Togo, the President and the head of state of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the President and head of state of the Republic of Benin, to engage with CMSP and other stakeholders with a view to agreeing on a short transition roadmap, establishing transition organs as well as facilitating the setting up of a transition monitoring and evaluation mechanism towards the speedy restoration of constitutional order.

“Based on the outcomes of the engagement by the committee of heads of state with the CNSP, the Authority will progressively ease the sanctions imposed.

“On failure by the CNSP to comply with the outcomes of the engagement with the committee, ECOWAS shall maintain all sanctions, including the use of force and shall request the African Union and all other partners to enforce the targeted sanctions on members of the CNSP and their associates.”

While commending the efforts of its Chairperson, towards a peaceful resolution of the political crisis, the Authority said it “deeply deplores the continued detention of President Mohamed Bazoum, his family and associates by the CNSP administration.”

The bloc also criticised the “lack of commitment on the part of the CNSP to restore constitutional order.”

Consequently, it called on the junta to “release President Mohamed Bazoum, his family and associates immediately and without condition.”

Sunday’s resolutions follow the earlier decisions made during Extraordinary Summits on July 30, 2023, and August 10, 2023.

In the fight against terrorism and other related security issues, the Authority asserted its commitment to eradicating extremism and other threats to the region’s peace, security and stability.

Consequently, the Authority instructed the Commission to urgently “resume efforts to activate the ECOWAS standby force in its kinetic mode for counterterrorism operations in zones infested by terrorist groups.”

It also instructed the Commission to expedite the convening of the meeting of ministers of finance and defense to agree on the modalities for the “mobilisation of internal financial, human and material resources on a mandatory basis for support the deployment of the regional counterterrorism force.”

In this regard, it acknowledged the commencement of assignment by its special envoy of counterterrorism, Baba Kamara, and directed the Commission to “facilitate his mission.”

The Authority also urged member states to increase funding for joint maritime operations and exercises in the region and to improve coordination and collaboration among various ministries, departments, and agencies responsible for maritime security.

On the transition process in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, the ECOWAS authority welcomed the successful national referendum in Mali. It commended the transition authorities for the efforts they have deployed.

However, it frowned at the “reluctance” of the transition authorities to “cooperate with ECOWAS in the implementation of transition programmes and other activities of interest to the region.”

It also lamented the unilateral decisions taken on the implementation of the transitional programmess agreed with ECOWAS, requesting the Troika, under the leadership of President Talon of the Republic of Benin, to “urgently undertake visits of Burkina Faso, the Republic of Guinea and Mali,” to re-engage the three countries in the inclusive implementation of the transition programme.

The Authority also directed member-states to exempt the transition presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers of states in transition from the travel ban and other targeted individual sanctions imposed on the three member-states.

This was as it urged Mali to cooperate with countries contributing troops to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali to safely remove contingent-owned equipment from Mali before the deadline.

The ECOWAS Authority also condemned the coup attempt of November 26, 2023, that led to the loss of lives and destruction of property.

It urged the judiciary to conduct “a thorough and transparent investigation into the event, with a view to identifying and bringing in the perpetrators to justice.”


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