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No excuse for long transition to civil rule, says Osinbajo at ECOWAS meeting on Mali

*West African leaders reaffirm commitment to democracy, uphold sanctions on Mali, others 
Although sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on countries where coups detat have taken place persist, there shall be no excuse for a prolonged transition back to democracy in those places including Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Prof. Osinbajo disclosed this in a chat with newsmen at the end of an Extraordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held in Accra, Ghana on Friday.  The VP noted that “the major issues are the extent of compliance in the countries where there have been coups detat, which are Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, in particular, Mali.  
“We received a report from the ECOWAS Mediator for Mali, Former President Goodluck Jonathan and his report was that we are at a point where the Malian authorities want longer period of transition but obviously ECOWAS is insisting on a much shorter period for transition.”  
Speaking further on the outcome of deliberations at yesterday’s meeting, the Vice President said “when the communique is issued it will reflect ECOWAS position which is that there is no excuse for long transition. And all that is required in the electoral process is to ensure that there should be free and fair elections. And there should be no extended period of transition.” 
Prof. Osinbajo added that “the Heads of State and Government are firm on the resolve that coups will not be tolerated and that it is completely undemocratic. A few people cannot impose their way on the majority of the people of a country no matter what their motive may be.”  
He explained that “the whole point of democracy is that each individual has a right to choose his or her leader.  “I think that outrage has been well expressed by the Authority of the Heads of State and by the people of the ECOWAS region, that we are in a democracy and we are not going to go back.”  The meeting chaired by President Nana Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana was attended besides the Nigerian Vice President, by Patrice Talon, President of the Republic of Benin; Umaro Sissoco Embalo, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau; Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger; Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, and Dr Isatou Touray, Vice-President of the Republic of The Gambia.  Also present were Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission; Mr. Rui Alberto De Figueiredo Soares, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Regional Integration of the Republic of Cabo Verde; Mr. Fidele Sarassoro, Minister Director of Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire; Mr. Simfeitcheou Pre, Minister and Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Togo; Al Hassan Conteh, Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Permanent Representative to ECOWAS among others.  
According to the Communique, highlight of decisions reached by the leaders are as follows:
1. They considered the memoranda on the political and security situations in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali presented by H.E. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission.  
2. The Authority commends the quality of the reports presented and took note of the recommendations contained therein.  On the social and political situation in Mali:  
3. The Authority notes that the security and humanitarian situation in Mali continues to deteriorate with attacks by terrorist groups resulting in military and civilian casualties.  
4. It notes that during the last mission of the ECOWAS Mediator to Mali from 18th to 20th March 2022, the Transition Authorities proposed a 24-month timetable, that is, two (2) years in addition to the 18 months that have already elapsed.  
5. The Authority notes that, in view of the global political and security situation, there is an urgent need to reach an agreement in order to avoid further deterioration of the situation in the country.  
6. The Authority regrets the non-availability of the President of the Transition to physically honour the invitation extended to him to participate in the Summit in order to find a solution to the current situation in Mali.  
7. The Authority congratulates and commends the efforts made by the ECOWAS Mediator with a view to obtaining a consensual timetable to ensure a quick return to constitutional order, in accordance with the ECOWAS and African Union protocols and decisions.  
8. In light of the foregoing, the Authority urges the Transition Authorities to adhere to the additional period of 12 to 16 months which has been agreed by the joint technical teams of ECOWAS/AU/UN for the extension of the transition with effect from 15th March 2022, taking into account the activities required for the conduct of the presidential elections. The Authority decides to send the Mediator to Mali to continue and finalise the discussions on the chronogramme with the Transition Authorities.  
9. Furthermore, the Authority decides to:
a. uphold the sanctions imposed on 9th January 2022;
b. continue the dialogue with a view to reaching an agreement to ensure a gradual lifting of the sanctions;c. call on partners to increase their humanitarian support to Mali;  
10. The Authority expresses deep concern about the deteriorating security situation in Mali. The Authority urges the Transition Authorities to step up efforts to enhance security in the country and reiterates its call on Member States and the Commission to accompany the efforts of the Transition Authorities in this regard.  On the social and political situation in Guinea:  
11. The Authority expresses serious concern over the lack of visibility on the transition. It notes that the six-month deadline set by ECOWAS for the conduct of elections has not been respected.
Furthermore, the transition timetable is still not available, priorities have not been set and little progress has been made in the transition process.  Similarly, the socio-political situation is deteriorating due to insufficient dialogue between the government and political stakeholders and civil society actors.  
12. Consequently, the Authority:
a. Demands the finalisation of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25th April 2022. After this deadline, economic and financial sanctions will be immediately applied;
b. calls on the government to promote the inclusiveness and dialogue with the political stakeholders and civil society actors in handling the transition in order to reduce tension in the country and ensure a peaceful transition;
c. urges the Transition Authorities to comply with the laws and regulations in the process of recovering the presumed state assets.  
13. In view of the socio-political crisis and the urgent need to facilitate dialogue between all stakeholders, the Authority reaffirms the decision to appoint a Facilitator.  On the social and political situation in Burkina Faso:  
14. The Authority expresses deep concern at the continued detention of former President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré since the coup d’Etat, in spite of several appeals for his unconditional release.  The Authority further notes that the transition authorities are struggling to improve the security situation in the country and find solutions to the humanitarian situation.  
15. Similarly, the Authority remains very concerned about the duration of the transition period set for thirty-six (36) months by the Transition Charter.  
16. In this regard, and in accordance with the Communiqué issued by the Extraordinary Summit of 3rd February 2022, the Authority:  
a. reiterates its strong condemnation of the coup d’Etat of 24 January 2022;
b. demands the immediate and unconditional release of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré;
c. decides to uphold the suspension of Burkina Faso from all ECOWAS institutions until constitutional order is restored;
d. demands the finalisation of an acceptable transition timetable no later than 25th April 2022. After this deadline, economic and financial sanctions will be immediately applied;e. calls on the International Community to strengthen its humanitarian support to Burkina Faso.  
17. Furthermore, the Authority decides to appoint a Mediator for Burkina Faso to facilitate dialogue among all stakeholders and ensure a smooth transition.  
18. The Authority urges the Transition Authorities to step up efforts to enhance security in the country and calls on Member States and the Commission to accompany the efforts of the Transition Authorities in this regard.  
19. Finally, the Authority calls on the African Union, the United Nations and all bilateral and multilateral partners to continue to support ECOWAS measures in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, to maintain peace and stability in our Region.  
20. At the end of their deliberations, the Heads of State and Government expressed their deep gratitude to H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, for his leadership in ensuring the success of the  Summit. 
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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