Tag Archives: ECOWAS

Minister of Foreign Affairs speaks on ECOWAS’ terrorism fight.

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Adeoye is Nigeria’s former member to the African and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama says with Nigeria’s Amb. Bankole Adeoye as the African Union’s (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, the fight against terror in the ECOWAS sub-region will be strengthened.

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Onyeama said in an interview with the NoRM‘s known Media in Abuja that he was optimistic that the Nigerian ambassador, who the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has endorsed, would win the election to the AU position coming up on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7.

“Nigeria has a lot to benefit because we can leverage more easily on the African Union to also support our fight against terrorism in West Africa, including Nigeria.

“And to support more coherently the multinational Joint Task Force of which Nigeria is a leading member, a coalition of countries against Boko Haram.

“So the very concrete benefit is that we would now be able to have greater cohesion between what the African Union is doing on peace and security and what ECOWAS and Nigeria are doing.

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“And I think that is something that is not as strong as it should be now,” Onyeama said.

Onyeama described Adeoye’s candidacy as a unique development given the fact that the ECOWAS leaders “have thrown all their weight behind him and endorsed him as ECOWAS’ candidate.”

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“It has been very good, a unique situation there because all the ECOWAS countries had candidates, most of them very good candidates.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama. Photo: TWITTER/GEOFFREYONYEAMA

“And at the level of the Presidents of all those countries, they agreed to withdraw all their candidates and just present Nigeria almost as a sub-regional candidate for the position of political Affairs, Peace and Security.

“Now, one of the main reasons being for West Africa, Peace and Security is number one priority and they also feel that Nigeria as a country has the wherewithal to take advantage of that position as commissioner, to make a difference for not just West Africa but for Africa.

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“So that is very very good and the voting is today and tomorrow.

“So we are hopeful because the other sub-regions, Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, and Southern Africa also have candidates. So we still have to battle.

“But the fact that we have the whole of West Africa behind us gives us a very good chance of securing this position,” Onyeama added.

Adeoye is Nigeria’s former member to the African and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

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He was Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti between 2017 to 2020.

Adeoye was ranked overall best candidate in an independent assessment by the AU panel of eminent Africans.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: ECOWAS Court orders Cross River to repay $6.4m to ECOWAS Bank.

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The Applicant had alleged that despite several demands, the Respondent refused and/or neglected to repay the loan with duration period of seven (7) years after a two-year moratorium.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the government of Cross River State to repay the sum of US$6,455,846 to the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID).

In its ruling on Friday, the court also ordered the Nigerian State government to pay an interest of 6.5 per cent per annum on the amount starting from 31 August, 201.

It said that the repayment accrued from an outstanding loan granted the government in 2005.

Delivering judgment in a suit brought by the bank, an arm of ECOWAS, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, said the “sum represents the situation of the Tinapa Free Zone Project loan in the Applicant’s book as at 31 August 2018.

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He asked the government of Cross River to submit to the Court within two months a report on its measures to implement the Court’s orders relating to the loan with which the government financed the Tinapa business resort.

Although the Court granted most of the reliefs sought by the Applicant, it declined the Applicant’s claim for immediate execution of the Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO).

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The ISPO is a loan condition precedent mandating the Accountant General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria tagged “Guarantee” in Clause 7.05 of the loan agreement to satisfy the indebtedness.

The Court also refused to grant the Applicant’s claim for solicitor’s fees on the ground that it was not backed by documentary evidence.

The Applicant EBID had filed suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/14/19 on 2nd April, 2019 urging the Court to declare its Loan Agreement No 7/AP/LAR/FRDF/04/05 with Cross River State Government (CRSG) as valid, binding and subsisting between the parties.

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The applicant also urged the court to declare the Respondent as having failed to fulfil a loan condition precedent and compel the Respondent to repay the loan with interest.

The Applicant had alleged that despite several demands, the Respondent refused and/or neglected to repay the loan with duration period of seven (7) years after a two-year moratorium.

The Respondent, the Government of the Cross River State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, admitted it approached EBID, an investment and development bank, to part finance its TINAPA business and resort project.

It further admitted that both parties signed a loan agreement on May 20, 2005 for a sum of UA6, 525,371 equivalent of US$10,000,000.

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The Respondent claimed it made repayments until 2010 when it defaulted due to an administrative issue and that the repayment schedule for the outstanding payment was restructured to run from 7 January 2010 to 1 January 2020.

But the Court noted that the Respondent defaulted on its repayment schedules.

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#Newsworthy

AfCFTA to begin in January, Buhari summon ECOWAS commitment

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Buhari pledged Nigeria’s commitments in taking all the necessary steps towards the effective commencement of the trading on Jan. 1, 2021.

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the commitments of member states of the Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement begins on Jan. 1.

Buhari made the call at the 13th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government held virtually on Saturday.

Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said that the successful commencement of the trade in January 2021 was indeed a fulfillment of the collective dreams of Africa’s founding fathers.

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He said that the AfCFTA sought to achieve better, united, peaceful and prosperous Africa, adding that any abuse of the rule could affect trade relations, cause disorder, regional and geopolitical tensions and reduced economic growth.

“In view of Nigeria’s strategic role in our collective efforts to build the Africa we want, the Nigerian government has taken bold steps to ratify the AfCFTA.

“It is, however, pertinent to remind us of the need to preserve the agreed rule we are putting in place, to ensure that there is no breakdown or abuse of the rules based continental free trade framework.

“We must, therefore, work assiduously to encourage probity, transparency, and promote a shared and inclusive prosperity for all Africans,” he said.

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According to him, Nigeria is keenly aware of her role in deepening intra-Africa trade and making it a success. We remain open to transparently work with our brothers and sisters across Africa in the spirit of cooperation.

“To deepen Continental Integration through the free movement of goods, natural and legal persons across the continent we must remain strident and committed in our support for the instrument while timeously addressing actions that could lead to breakdown of rules-based African Continental Free Trade Area.

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“The successful commencement of trade in January 2021 is indeed the fulfillment of the collective dreams of our founding fathers, for a better, united, peaceful and prosperous Africa.

“Let us, therefore, keep in mind that any form of abuse of the rules that undermine our borders and affect our markets could be a recipe for strained trade relations, disorder regional and geopolitical tensions and reduces economic growth,” Buhari said.

Buhari also said that trade rules requires trust and constant updates. We must continue to work to address and close noticeable gaps, in particular, the challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and other critical issues affecting the continent.

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According to him, AfCFTA is a rules-based system that provides governance structure for intra-Africa trade, including for settlement of trade disputes and smooth operationalisation of the agreement.

“In this regard, we are further assured that the mechanism will provide the essential balance previously lacking in our trade relations

“Importantly, this agreement is strategic and relevant to the establishment of an economic and legal framework for intra-Africa trade relations and further serves as a platform for deepening Africa’s integration into the global economy,” he said.

Buhari expressed optimism that the opportunities abound within the AfCFTA framework for the engagement of businesses that would foster trade as well as investments flows.

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He added that the agreement would also foster growth of regional and global value chains.

Buhari noted that it is important that the launch of the trade in 2021 produces a win-win situation and shared prosperity for all member states.

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#Newsworthy

Mali crisis: ECOWAS could likely decide this Friday.

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The West African bloc ECOWAS will likely decide on Friday whether to lift potentially crippling sanctions imposed on Mali after last month’s coup, its mediator said.

The mediator, Nigerian former president Goodluck Jonathan, called the 15-nation bloc’s sanctions “unfortunate” during a visit to Mali’s capital Bamako on Wednesday.

West African leaders have heaped pressure on the ruling military junta to return power to civilians since the coup toppled president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

ECOWAS has used the sanctions, which include closing borders and restricting trade, as leverage in negotiations with the junta.

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Sticking points in those negotiations have included whether civilians or soldiers will run a transition government until fresh elections.

The junta asked for the sanctions to be lifted this week after former defence minister Bah Ndaw was named interim president, tasked with governing for at most 18 months before holding polls.

The 70-year-old retired colonel will be sworn in on Friday, alongside junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita, who will serve as interim vice president.

According to the transition plan adopted by the junta, Ndaw will then appoint a prime minister, with the decision expected within a few days.

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Jonathan, in Mali on Wednesday to assess the progress the junta has made in returning an order to the country, said that ECOWAS was “eager” to make a decision on the sanctions.

“ECOWAS doesn’t want any sanctions in any part of the community,” he told reporters.

However Jonathan added that it is up to Ghanaian President and current ECOWAS leader Nana Akufo-Addo to announce the decision.

“I believe that on Friday after the inauguration, probably he will make that pronouncement,” Jonathan said.

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– Sanctions have ‘direct impact’ –

Mali’s neighbours are anxious to avoid the fragile nation of some 19 million people slipping into chaos.

Swathes of the vast country already lie outside of government control, due to a lethal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012 and has also inflamed ethnic tensions.

Keen to set an example to other countries, ECOWAS has taken a hard line, threatening a “total embargo” on the country should the junta install military leaders of an interim government.

Soldiers of FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) stand and salute during the national anthem at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of Mali’s independence in Bamako, on September 22, 2020, one day after that Colonel Goïta, leader of CNSP, announced that the transitional presidency would be assigned to a retired colonel, Bah Ndaw, 70 years, ephemeral Minister of Defence in 2014. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Current restrictions ban commercial trade and financial flows, but not basic necessities, drugs, equipment to fight coronavirus, fuel or electricity.

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Junta leader Goita on Tuesday said that “in the coming days ECOWAS must remove these sanctions for the happiness of the Malian”.

“The international community is watching us… which is why we accepted the ECOWAS principles,” he added.

ECOWAS said at a summit on September 15 that the sanctions would be lifted as soon as its conditions were met, including the appointment of a civilian president and prime minister.

But the junta has yet to respond to other ECOWAS demands, such as the release of other officials detained during the coup such as ousted prime minister Boubou Cisse.

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Economist Etienne Fakaba Sissoko said that the sanctions — coupled with the coronavirus pandemic — meant that Mali was barrelling into a recession.

“The immediate consequence is a reduction in public expenditure. This has a direct impact on the population,” he told AFP.

Before the coup, the Sahel country had already been facing an economic downturn, aggravated by the jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

It was frustrations over this intractable conflict — plus economic concerns and perceived corruption — which spurred anti-Keita protesters onto the streets this year, with the building unrest culminating in the coup.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Nigeria’s VP, Osinbajo attends ECOWAS summit in Ghana.

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has departed Nigeria for Ghana to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Osinbajo, who is representing President Muhammadu Buhari, at the summit will join other leaders in the sub-region to discuss the political crisis in Mali and the security situation in the sub-region at large.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.

According to the statement, the Vice President will also meet with representatives of the Nigerian community in Ghana to discuss issues bothering on their wellbeing in the West African country.

Accompanying the Vice President is the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb Zubairu Dada.

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He is expected back in Abuja today at the end of his engagements in Ghana.

Following the coup that broke out in Mali on August 18, ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and the United States have condemned the action.

File photo of Nigeria vice president, prof yemi osinbajo

The regional bloc suspended the country pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.

Similarly, ECOWAS delegation headed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, arrived in the Malian capital, Bamako on August 20 to push for a speedy return to civilian rule after a military coup in the troubled nation.

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The delegation met with the members of the new junta as well as ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after a mutiny dealing another deep blow to a country already struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.

Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.

“ECOWAS appreciates what is happening in Mali and ECOWAS wants the best for the country,” Jonathan said after his arrival.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Buhari attends ECOWAS summit.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has attended the second extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government over the socio-political situation in Mali.

The summit had in attendance, all Presidents in the region alongside the ECOWAS President, Jean Claude Kassi Brou.

Noble Reporters Media gathered that the discussions centered on finding a lasting solution to the political instability in Mali.

The government of President Ibrahim Keita was recently toppled in a bloodless coup earning the country sanctions from ECOWAS.

The military junta in place, National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), requested a 3-year term in office after which they would return the country to civilian rule.

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Several talks between the new Junta and ECOWAS for a return to civilian rule ended in deadlocks after a high-level delegation led by former President Goodluck Jonathan to Bamako failed to secure its demand.

There hasn’t been a response to this request yet from ECOWAS, but it is expected that this will be discussed at this extraordinary summit.

Meanwhile, Mali’s military leader hinted on Thursday that former President Ibrahim Keita had been freed after he was detained in the August 18 coup.

Physically present at the statehouse in Abuja to attend the meeting were the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; alongside the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Defence ‎Bashir Magashi and the Director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Buhari hails ECOWAS 12-months ultimatum for transition to civilian rule

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President Muhammadu Buhari has given his backing to the declaration by the Economic Community of West African States demanding a 12-month transition process to civilian rule in Mali.

President Buhari who attended the ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments virtual meeting on Friday, charged the military junta to set an acceptable timetable for a return to democratic government.

In his remarks quoted in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, President Buhari maintained that Mali is in a fragile state which poses an imminent danger to the citizens and the ECOWAS sub-region.

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He added that the military leadership should be flexible in negotiations by putting the interest of all Malians and the harmony of the sub-region into consideration.

“For the people of Mali, specifically the leadership, embracing Democracy and Good Governance is crucial to the country’s political stability. Mali cannot, therefore, afford to stand alone, hence the need to come to terms with the realities of an acceptable and workable transition compact that inspires the confidence of all Malians.

“With regards to other areas being negotiated, Nigeria believes that the people of Mali and the military leaders need to appreciate the fragility of their country and the imminent danger which it poses to the citizens of Mali as well as the ECOWAS sub-region, “the President said.

He urged the military leadership to focus on securing the country, faced with severe security threats from its northern part, instead of an incursion into governance.

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President Buhari celebrated the news that former President of Mali, Ibrahim Keita, has been released from detention and is in good condition. He however called on the military leaders to free the remaining senior officials still in detention.

“I urge the military leadership to consider: the immediate release of all the remaining senior Government officials in detention, without pre-conditions; a transition process, to be completed in not more than 12 months, and which shall include the representatives of Malian stakeholders.

“This is a critical consideration for the new government to enjoy the cooperation and collaboration of regional and international community, and to allow the easing of sanctions imposed on Mali.”

The Nigerian President added that it is critical for the new government to enjoy the necessary cooperation.

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“In this connection Nigeria will, alongside ECOWAS, provide necessary logistics support to facilitate the conduct of elections to re-establish democratic governance in Mali.”

President Buhari thanked Dr Goodluck Jonathan for mediating in the crisis, and commended Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic for convening the Extraordinary Summit.

The government of President Ibrahim Keita was recently toppled in a bloodless coup earning the country sanctions from ECOWAS.

The military junta in place requested a 3-year term in office after which they would return the country to civilian rule


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: ECOWAS talk with Military ends in deadlock.

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Talks between West African nations and Mali’s new junta ended on Monday without a deal on how the country should return to civilian rule following last week’s coup, the two sides said.

Separately, they also said that ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita — whose return to office had been initially demanded by the regional bloc ECOWAS — no longer wished to resume duties.

The August 18 coup triggered shockwaves among Mali’s neighbours, fearing that one of the region’s most volatile countries would spiral into chaos.

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ECOWAS — the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States — sent a high-level delegation to Bamako on Saturday, led by former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, to press its demands for the “immediate return to constitutional order.”

The talks have focussed on the transition to civilian rule.

“There were discussions on both sides, given that at this stage nothing has been set down, nothing has been decided, and that as far as we are concerned, the final architecture of the transition will be discussed and defined by us,” said the junta’s spokesman, Colonel Ismael Wague.

Jonathan said: “We have agreed on a number of issues, but there are some issues that we have not agreed. So on those issues we told the military officers the thinking of ECOWAS and we asked them to go and review.”


#Newsworthy…

Jonathan arrives Mali with ECOWAS delegation.

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A delegation of West African leaders headed by former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has arrived in the Malian capital, Bamako on a mission to try to push for a speedy return to civilian rule after a military coup in the troubled nation.

The delegation plans to meet members of the new junta as well as ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after a mutiny on Tuesday, dealing another deep blow to a country already struggling with a brutal Islamist insurgency and widespread public discontent over its government.

Mali’s neighbours have called for Keita to be reinstated, saying the purpose of the delegation’s visit was to help “ensure the immediate return of constitutional order”.

“ECOWAS appreciates what is happening in Mali and ECOWAS wants the best for the country,” Jonathan said after his arrival.

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“We’re going to discuss with all stakeholders and I think at the end of the day we’ll come out with something that is good for the country, good for ECOWAS and good for the international community.”

A delegation official said they would meet members of the junta and later Keita, who is being held with prime minister Boubou Cisse in Kati, a military base northwest of Bamako where the coup was unleashed.

Adding to the international pressure, the United States on Friday suspended military aid to Mali, with no further training or support of the Mali armed forces.

Colonel Malick Diaw (C), vice-president of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) smiles at a crowd of supporters as he arrives escorted by Malian soldiers at the Independence square in Bamako, on August 21, 2020. ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

‘We won’
But thousands of jubilant Malians took to the streets of Bamako on Friday to celebrate the toppling of Keita, who was reelected in 2018 but became the focus of widespread discontent.

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The crowds gathered in Bamako’s central square draped in the national flag and blasting on vuvuzela horns.

The rally, originally organised as an anti-Keita protest by a loose coalition that has led months of mass rallies against him, was recast to “celebrate the victory of the Malian people”.

“I am overjoyed! We won,” said Mariam Cisse, 38.

Speaking at the rally Ismael Wague, spokesman for the junta which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, paid tribute to the public.

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“We merely completed the work that you began and we recognise ourselves in your fight,” he said.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C) walks at the International Airport in Bamako upon his arrival on August 22, 2020 next to by Malick Diaw (4R), the Vice President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People) ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

‘Transitional council’
The junta has said it welcomes the ECOWAS visit but has not talked of restoring Keita to power.

“A transitional council, with a transitional president who is going to be either military or civilian” would be appointed, Wague told France 24 television Thursday.

Keita won election in a landslide in 2013, presenting himself as a unifying figure in a fractured country, and was re-elected in 2018 for another five-year term.

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But he failed to make headway against the jihadist revolt that has left swathes of the country in the hands of armed Islamists and ignited ethnic violence in the country’s volatile centre.

Thousands of UN and French troops, along with soldiers from five Sahel countries, have been deployed to try to stem the bloodshed.

In a sign of the continuing challenge facing the country, four soldiers were killed by an explosive device in the center of the country.

The ECOWAS visit to Mali comes after the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the country said a human rights team had gained access to the ousted president and other detainees on Thursday.

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A junta member said the coup leaders had released former economy minister Abdoulaye Daffe and Sabane Mahalmoudou, Keita’s private secretary, calling the move “proof that we respect human rights”.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (2L) walks at the International Airport in Bamako upon his arrival on August 22, 2020 next to by Malick Diaw (L), the Vice President of the CNSP (National Committee for the Salvation of the People). ANNIE RISEMBERG / AFP

While Keita and Cisse have no television, radio or phone, other detainees are in a training centre, where they are sleeping on mattresses and have a TV, according to witnesses to the visit.

The 75-year-old ousted president “looked tired but relaxed,” they said, describing his conditions as “acceptable”.

Tuesday’s coup was the second in eight years, and has heightened concern over regional stability as its jihadist insurgency that now threatens neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Jonathan to lead ECOWAS envoys on search for coup solutions.

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to lead a team of ECOWAS envoys to Mali for talks following the recent coup in the country.

According to a member of the new junta and an ECOWAS source, the leaders are expected to arrive in the West African country on Saturday.

The source described the mission to Bamako as aiming “to help the search for solutions,” days after mutinying soldiers took over power in Mali.

“We will receive the ECOWAS delegation with pleasure… it is important to talk to our brothers,” a junta official in the country told AFP on Friday.

Recently, there have been a series of protests by Malians who took to the streets of the nation’s capital despite rainfall and pleas from mediators to stay home, demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

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Amid the lingering unrest in the country, Keita was overthrown on Tuesday by mutinying troops, who took him, Mali’s Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, as well as other senior government officials into custody.

Avoiding Bloodshed
The coup has sent shockwaves around the West African sub-region, sparking fears that one of its most volatile states could collapse.

(File) Former President Goodluck Jonathan is seen in Bamako, the capital of Mali on July 23, 2020. AFP/MICHELE CATTANI.

President Keita, who seemed to have bowed to pressure, said on Wednesday that he had stepped down to avoid “bloodshed”.

Two days after the Malian leader was taken into custody, the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it would dispatch a high-level delegation to the country.

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The regional body explained that this would ” ensure the immediate return of constitutional order” in Mali, saying it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

In their various reactions, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and other West African leaders condemned the action of the soldiers and demanded that Keita be restored as president.

The coup was also condemned by the African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations, among others.

On Thursday, UN human rights officials gained access to President Keita and the others, although the junta said it had released two prisoners, retaining 17 others.


#Newsworthy

Mali crisis: Buhari joins ECOWAS leaders to discuss.

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday joined other West African leaders to discuss the military coup in Mali that ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The meeting, which was scheduled to start at 11 am, was held virtually under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Noble Reporters Media can confirm.

President Buhari participated from the Council Chambers at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

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Present with him were the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada and Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (Rtd).

Others were the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd); Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Abubakar Ahmed Rufai and the two Presidential Spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu.

FILE: President Buhari participates at a Virtual Meeting of the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

ECOWAS has strongly condemned the change of government in member state Mali.

“The Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will hold an extraordinary summit on the socio-political situation in Mali on Thursday,” the regional body said in a statement on Wednesday.

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ECOWAS had been mediating in the crisis before Tuesday’s coup.

Malian army officer Colonel Assimi Goita on Wednesday announced himself as the coup leader.

The African Union (AU) also on Wednesday suspended Mali a day after the coup.

The AU joined other international bodies and nations, including the US and European Union, to condemn the coup and demand the release of the detained leaders.


#Newsworthy…

Mali awakes military rule after Boubacar’s resignation.

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his resignation comes in order to curb bloodshed.


Mali awoke on Wednesday to a new chapter in its troubled history after rebel military leaders forced President Boubacar Keita from office, prompting its West African neighbours to threaten border closures and sanctions against the coup leaders.

Keita, embattled by months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency, said he had resigned to avoid bloodshed.

There were few obvious traces of the previous day’s drama in the capital Bamako — there were no troops on the streets despite the coup leaders announcing a night-time curfew.

The burnt-out home of the former justice minister after an attack by protesters was one of the few visible signs of the overthrow.

Jubilant crowds had cheered the rebels on Tuesday as they arrived in Bamako, where they detained Keita along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of both men as diplomats in New York said the Security Council would hold emergency talks on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether Keita was still in custody on Wednesday at the Kati military base — a facility seized by the mutineers that was also the site of the 2012 coup that brought him to power.

Armed members of the FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) are celebrated by the population as they parade at Independence Square in Bamako on August 18, 2020, after rebel troops seized Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis. STRINGER / AFP

The coup leaders appeared on television overnight to pledge a political transition and new elections within a “reasonable time”.

Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ismael Wague said he and his fellow officers had “decided to take responsibility in front of the people and of history”.

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There were no reports of casualties during the military takeover but the coup leaders announced a curfew and border closures, in effect sealing off the country.

– Jihadist insurgency –

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to condemn the mutiny, his office saying that he still supported mediation efforts by other West African states.

Mali is the cornerstone of French-led efforts to roll back jihadists in the Sahel, and its neighbours are anxious to avoid the country sliding into chaos.

Colonel Wague said “all past agreements” would be respected, including Mali’s support for anti-jihadist missions in the region.

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“MINUSMA (the UN force in Mali), (France’s) Barkhane force, the G5 Sahel, Takuba (a European special-forces initiative) remain our partners,” he said.

The coup leaders also remain “committed to the Algiers process,” a 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and armed groups in the north of the country, he said.

Swathes of Mali’s territory are outside of the control of the central authorities.

Years of fighting have failed to brake an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since emerging in 2012.

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The failure fuelled frustrations with Keita’s rule and tensions flared in April after the government held long-delayed parliamentary elections, the results of which are still disputed.

– Sanctions threat –

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last month suggested the formation of a unity government while offering continued support for Keita, but the compromise was slapped down by the opposition.

ECOWAS condemned the coup in a statement, pledging to close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

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Further afield, Morocco on Wednesday stressed the need for “stability” in Mali, calling for “responsible dialogue, respect for constitutional order and the preservation of democratic gains.”

The coup coincided with opposition plans to resume protests against Keita.

The June 5 Movement, named after the date of its first protest, focussed public anger against the leader and made increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

Its campaign veered into crisis last month when 11 people were killed during three days of unrest sparked by a demonstration.


#Newsworthy…

Update: ECOWAS suspends Mali, imposes sanctions over coup.

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The West Africa bloc ECOWAS on Tuesday condemned a military putsch in Mali and pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.

Rebel soldiers arrested Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon following weeks of political tension in the country.

The dramatic move followed the seizure of an army base near the capital Bamako that morning.

In a statement, the Economic Community for West African States said that its members would close land and air borders to Mali and pledged to demand sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

“ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists,” said the statement, which was originally published in French.

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Mali has been in the grip of a deep political impasse since June, with President Keita facing increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

The opposition June 5 Movement, named for the date of its first protest, has been channelling deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and a brutal jihadist conflict.

President Buhari with President of Togo H.E. Faure Gnassingbe, President of Burkina Faso H.E. Roch Marc Kabore, President of Guinea Conakry H.E. Alpha Conde and President of Gambia H.E. Adama Barrow during the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja on 21st Dec 2019

The opposition alliance’s anti-Keita campaign veered into crisis last month when at least 11 people were killed over three days of unrest that followed a protest.

In an effort to avoid chaos in notoriously unstable Mali, ECOWAS then stepped in to mediate.

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The bloc suggested the formation of a unity government and other measures late last month, but stuck by Keita.

But the June 5 Movement has repeatedly spurned compromise proposals, and has continued to demand Keita’s departure.

The political opposition declared a new phase of anti-government rallies on Monday.

Keita, 75, is currently being held by rebel soldiers outside of the capital.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Opposition regret ECOWAS plan, insist Boubacar quit

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A protest movement that has sprung up in Mali, shaking President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s grip on power, on Tuesday rejected a compromise put forward by regional leaders and insisted that he quit.

In a statement, the so-called June 5 Movement said it “demands the resignation of Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and his regime more than ever,” accusing them of bearing “full responsibility” for Mali’s crisis.

The announcement came a day after heads of the 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS stood by Keita and urged him to forge a unity government and resolve an election dispute that has fuelled the protests.

(From L) Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, President Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Macky Sall, President of Senegal deliver a speech after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: Buhari attends virtual ECOWAS meeting

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President Muhammadu Buhari is at a virtual meeting of the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.

The main agenda for this virtual meeting is the political situation in Mali.

In attendance alongside the president is the Secretary-General of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the National Security Adviser Mr. Monguno, the Chief of Staff to the president Mr. Gambari, as well as former President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Muhammadu Buhari participates in a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) on June 23, 2020.

West African Heads-of-State in attendance include George Weah of Liberia, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, and President Keita of Mali.

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Also present is the ECOWAS Commission President, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.

The media was excused as the closed-door session got underway.

No-deal summit
West African leaders ended a day-long summit in Mali on Thursday without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.

The Imam Mahmoud Dicko (C), influential leader of the opposition coalition, walks in the Sheraton hotel in Bamako on July 23, 2020 after a meeting with the West African leaders who gathered in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Five of the region’s leaders met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation, as a long-running jihadist insurgency threatens to throw the country into chaos.

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But the intervention failed to seal a deal and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — at the talks along with the leaders of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria — said Western African bloc ECOWAS would hold a summit on Monday.

“Nothing has moved for the movement,” said one of the protest leaders, imam Mahmoud Dicko, after holding talks with the presidents.

Earlier as the foreign leaders arrived on Thursday morning, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside the airport.

“We’re here to demand IBK’s resignation and ensure our comrades who have been killed are not forgotten,” said Yaya Sylla, a young protester, using the acronym by which Mali’s leader is known.

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The June 5 Movement, named after the date when the protests began, has tapped into deep anger over Keita’s perceived failure to tackle the dire economy, corruption and the eight-year jihadist revolt.

Malians are also incensed at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

The summit came on the heels of a five-day mediation mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday without reconciling the two sides.

The West African leaders discussed proposed solutions that had been crafted in behind-the-scenes talks between the president and opposition this week.

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The Institute for Security Studies think-tank warned on Thursday that there was an “unfavourable prejudice” towards the presidents, however, with some perceiving the leaders as protecting their own narrow interests.

Macky Sall, President of Senegal, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

“The search for solutions will have to take into account the need to improve the daily lives of Malians,” the think-tank said.

Deepening crisis
Keita, who came to power in 2013, has come under increasing pressure to end Mali’s long-running jihadist conflict.

The poor nation of some 20 million people has been struggling to contain an insurgency that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since 2012, despite the presence of foreign troops.

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In the latest violence, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali on Thursday, according to France’s presidency and the French army.

But much of the current tension was sparked in April, when the constitutional court tossed out 31 results from the parliamentary elections, benefiting Keita’s party and sparking protests.

Tensions then ratcheted up into a crisis on July 10 when an anti-Keita rally organised by the June 5 Movement turned violent.

Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured in the worst political unrest Mali had seen in years.

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Seeking a way out, ECOWAS mediators suggested forming a new unity government including opposition members and appointing new constitutional court judges who could potentially re-examine disputed election results.

But the June 5 Movement had already rejected any outcome that did not involve Keita’s departure.

Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Possible compromise?
Despite the apparent failure of the ECOWAS mediators, the president’s camp and opposition figures had quietly been talking all week and the June 5 Movement notably suspended protests ahead of the forthcoming Eid festival.

Brema Ely Dicko, a sociologist at the University of Bamako, had suggested the opposition might be prepared to accept Prime Minister Boubou Cisse’s resignation instead of Keita’s.

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“The M5-RFP is obliged to keep up the pressure to at least get something,” he said, using the opposition coalition’s formal acronym.

(From L) Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, President Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana and Macky Sall, President of Senegal deliver a speech after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. – In an exceptional one-day summit, the presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

A European diplomat in Bamako who declined to be named said that the opposition may have overplayed its hand in demanding Keita’s departure.

“Nobody wants to open the door to a period of political instability in Mali, which remains the epicentre of the Sahel security crisis,” he added.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: ECOWAS summit ends in dreadlock

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The presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation.

West African leaders ended a day-long summit in Mali on Thursday without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.

Five of the region’s leaders met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation, as a long-running jihadist insurgency threatens to throw the country into chaos.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (L) and the Imam Mahmoud Dicko (C), influential leader of the opposition coalition, greet each other after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)
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But the intervention failed to seal a deal and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — at the talks along with the leaders of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria — said Western African bloc ECOWAS would hold a summit on Monday.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

“Nothing has moved for the movement,” said one of the protest leaders, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, after holding talks with the presidents.

Earlier as the foreign leaders arrived on Thursday morning, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside the airport.

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“We’re here to demand IBK’s resignation and ensure our comrades who have been killed are not forgotten,” said Yaya Sylla, a young protester, using the acronym by which Mali’s leader is known.

The June 5 Movement, named after the date when the protests began, has tapped into deep anger over Keita’s perceived failure to tackle the dire economy, corruption and the eight-year jihadist revolt.

The presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation.

Malians are also incensed at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.

The summit came on the heels of a five-day mediation mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday without reconciling the two sides.

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The West African leaders discussed proposed solutions that had been crafted in behind-the-scenes talks between the president and opposition this week.

The Institute for Security Studies think-tank warned on Thursday that there was an “unfavourable prejudice” towards the presidents, however, with some perceiving the leaders as protecting their own narrow interests.

“The search for solutions will have to take into account the need to improve the daily lives of Malians,” the think-tank said.

President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo (C) arrives at the Sheraton hotel where West African leaders will gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali, in Bamako on July 23, 2020.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Deepening crisis
Keita, who came to power in 2013, has come under increasing pressure to end Mali’s long-running jihadist conflict.

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The poor nation of some 20 million people has been struggling to contain an insurgency that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since 2012, despite the presence of foreign troops.

In the latest violence, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali on Thursday, according to France’s presidency and the French army.

President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou arrives in Bamako on July 23, 2020, where West African leaders will gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

But much of the current tension was sparked in April, when the constitutional court tossed out 31 results from the parliamentary elections, benefiting Keita’s party and sparking protests.

Tensions then ratcheted up into a crisis on July 10 when an anti-Keita rally organised by the June 5 Movement turned violent.

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Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured in the worst political unrest Mali had seen in years.

Seeking a way out, ECOWAS mediators suggested forming a new unity government including opposition members and appointing new constitutional court judges who could potentially re-examine disputed election results.

But the June 5 Movement had already rejected any outcome that did not involve Keita’s departure.

Macky Sall, President of Senegal, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Possible compromise?
Despite the apparent failure of the ECOWAS mediators, the president’s camp and opposition figures had quietly been talking all week and the June 5 Movement notably suspended protests ahead of the forthcoming Eid festival.

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Brema Ely Dicko, a sociologist at the University of Bamako, had suggested the opposition might be prepared to accept Prime Minister Boubou Cisse’s resignation instead of Keita’s.

“The M5-RFP is obliged to keep up the pressure to at least get something,” he said, using the opposition coalition’s formal acronym.

France’s soldier Tojohasina Razafintsalama, from Tarbes, southern France was killed, “during fighting against armed terrorist groups”, announced the Elysee Palace. (Photo by Handout / FRENCH ARMY / AFP) 

A European diplomat in Bamako who declined to be named said that the opposition may have overplayed its hand in demanding Keita’s departure.

“Nobody wants to open the door to a period of political instability in Mali, which remains the epicentre of the Sahel security crisis,” he added.

Mahamadou Issoufou (C), President of Niger, speaks during a press conference after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. – In an exceptional one-day summit, the presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: We’ll do all in our best – ECOWAS

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Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, President Mahamadou Issoufou said the sub-regional organisation will do all it can to mitigate the political crisis in Mali, after many hours of consultations in the nation’s capital, Bamako, on Thursday.

The meeting, attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, Host President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Presidents Machy Sall of Senegal, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, listened to a brief by the ECOWAS Special Envoy, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and leader of the opposition, Imam Mahmoud Dicko and representatives of the opposition alliance, M5 and Civil Society Organisations.

The host President also briefed the Heads of State and government on the socio-political situation in the country, especially the disagreements that spiralled into protests and violence.

Speaking to newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, Issoufou, who is the President of Niger Republic, said an extra-ordinary virtual meeting of ECOWAS Heads of State and government will be held on Monday 26 July 2020, to further deliberate on the issues raised, with a view to finding a lasting solution to the crisis.

He said the sub-regional leaders had already agreed there would be a need for a compromise to protect the peace and integrity of the nation, adding that allowing a political crisis to fester in Mali would affect the security situation in West Africa, especially neighbouring countries.

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The ECOWAS Chairman commended Nigeria’s former President, Jonathan, for accepting to lead an initial mission to the country to broker peace, and make findings, while appreciating all the West African leaders who attended the meeting.

Earlier, the Ghanaian President said that the ECOWAS protocol would be followed, explaining that the democratic tenet adopted by the sub-regional body clearly spells out that a President can only be voted into power, and voted out by-election, except he completes his tenure.

The Ghanaian leader noted that the protocol would be adhered to to ensure safety and peace in the sub-region.


#Newsworthy…

Buhari seek cooperation to fight terrorism among ECOWAS countries

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President Muhammadu Buhari has called for more collaboration among countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to effectively fight terrorism in the region.

President Buhari made this call on Saturday during the graduation ceremony of 181 Senior Course 42 officers at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji in Kaduna State.

The President noted that Nigeria, in partnership with its allies, will not relent until the Boko Haram terrorists in the Lake Chad basin and other insurgency group terrorising the West African subregion and the entire continent are completely decimated.

File Photo: President Muhammadu Buhari addresses troops of the Nigerian Army.

Speaking through the Minister of Defense, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired), President Buhari commended the Armed Forces for their continued prompt responses to the numerous security challenges facing the country.

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He was accompanied by Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and other top military officers.

A total of 181 officers drawn from the Nigerian Army, Airforce, Navy, Police, Paramilitary agencies, and 13 allied students from 10 African countries took part in the 49 weeks senior military course which commenced in August 2019.

The officers had passed through several aspects of training in leadership, public security, command, and staff functions to prepare them for the challenges ahead.


#Newsworthy…

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Nigerian President warns over ECOWAS currency

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday cautioned that the ambition for single regional currency could be in ‘serious jeopardy,’ unless member states complied with agreed processes of reaching the collective goal.

President Buhari also expressed concern over the decision of francophone countries that form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) to replace the CFA Franc with Eco ahead of the rest of member states.

The President delivered Nigeria’s position on the new regional currency at a virtual extraordinary meeting of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).

The meeting discussed the implementation of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) and the ECOWAS Single Currency Agenda.

“Your Excellencies, you all are familiar with the history of the Eco thus far, so I will not bore you with that. We reverted to a single-track approach, giving up Eco which is the original idea of the WAMZ so the ECOWAS-wide programme could thrive,” Buhari said at the summit.

“In this regard, we have made remarkable progress including the adoption of the Exchange Rate Regime, the name and model of the common Central Bank and the symbol.

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“We have urged our Ministers towards an expeditious path to success. It, therefore, gives me an uneasy feeling that the UEMOA Zone now wishes to take up the Eco in replacement for its CFA Franc ahead of the rest of the Member States.

“This is in addition to deviating from the Community Act on consistent attainment of convergence in the three years running up to the introduction of the currency, and our subsequent reinforcing directives.

“I am informed that the French Ministers have approved a bill to reform the CFA Franc and most, if not all of the UEMOA Member States, have already passed legislation in their various Parliaments to that effect.

“It is a matter of concern that a people with whom we wish to go into a union are taking these major steps without trusting us for discussion,’’ he said.

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President Buhari assured ECOWAS leaders of Nigeria’s commitment to the ECOWAS single currency and urged them to critically consider the recommendations made by the Convergence Council and take a common position to safeguard the West African Monetary Zone from the pitfalls of a questionable union.

He affirmed Nigeria’s support for a monetary union with the right fundamentals, which guarantees credibility, sustainability and overall regional prosperity and sovereignty.

According to the president, Nigeria also believes that given the potential contractions and even losses from the global Covid-19 pandemic, member states cannot but be too cautious about ensuring compliance with the set standards.

“We cannot ridicule ourselves by entering a union to disintegrate, potentially no sooner than we enter into it.

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“We need to be clear and unequivocal about our position regarding this process. We must also communicate same to the outside world effectively. We have all staked so much in this project to leave things to mere expediencies and convenience.

“My dear colleagues, Heads of State and Government, It is obvious that we are at a crossroads.

“We must proceed with caution and comply with the agreed process of reaching our collective goal while treating each other with utmost respect. Without these, our ambitions for a strategic Monetary Union as an ECOWAS bloc could very well be in serious jeopardy,’’ he said.

In the light of the caution raised by Nigeria and some other West African countries at the meeting, ECOWAS leaders resolved to convene an enlarged meeting of the regional bloc on the single currency issue.


#Newsworthy…

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Top Story: ECOWAS endorses Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has endorsed the candidacy of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been nominated by the President, Buhari to represent Nigeria and West Africa as the director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

In a statement signed by the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, it revealed that the organization is fully in support of her nomination.

The statement declared that the endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature by ECOWAS is backed by her academic and over 30 years of experience as a Development Economist.


#Newsworthy…

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ECOWAS set up committee over border closure


The Authority of Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government has constituted a committee, headed by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso, to study and make a full report on Nigeria’s land border closure with her neighbours.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the decision was made on the margins of the 33rd AU Summit to discuss the issue and other pressing regional matters.


Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, told reporters after the three-hour closed-door session that the meeting attended by President Buhari and chaired by the ECOWAS Chairman, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, also discussed West Africa′s new single currency, the Eco, and the situation in Guinea Bissau after the presidential election.

On border closure, Onyeama said: “The President of Burkina Faso is charged with undertaking a full study of the situation, make a report and then we take it from there.”


Asked when the report will be presented to ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, he replied: “As soon as possible, there are no timelines. But he is supposed to start very quickly, study the situation from all the affected countries and present his report.”

On the Eco currency, Onyeama said: “Nothing has changed in respect of Nigeria’s position.”

He explained that Nigeria’s position was that the convergence criteria have not been met by the majority of the countries, therefore there has to be an extension of time on the take-off of the single currency.

On Guinea Bissau, the Minister said ECOWAS leaders recognized that there was an appeal of the presidential election result and they are waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the matter.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Buhari praise ECOWAS for fighting terrorism with own money


President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the renewed vigour by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries to mobilise their own resources to combat terrorism.


He gave the commendation at the weekend in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the opening of High-Level meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the State of Peace and Security in Africa at the 33rd AU Summit.

According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari called for new strategies by the Union to effectively prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in the face of new circumstances and emerging challenges.


He also announced that Nigeria has fulfilled its financial obligations to the AU Peace Fund up to 2019, pledging to continue investing in peace and security on the continent.

President Buhari declared that Nigeria is proud to continue to serve as a strong contributor to the peace roles played by the ECOWAS region.


”In Burkina Faso, we (ECOWAS) pledged to mobilise one billion US dollars to address the challenges of insecurity in our region and the Sahel. In Guinea Bissau, ECOWAS successfully midwifed the general elections.

”Nigeria along with ECOWAS member states led in the restoration of democracy and peace in the Gambia,” he said while welcoming the collaborative leadership of the AU with other Regional Economic Communities in resolving conflicts on the continent.


On security challenges on the continent, Buhari said it was regrettable that terrorism, violent extremism and other forms of vicious conflicts had continued to cause mayhem and untold crisis on the continent.

”Nigeria condemns, in the strongest terms, the perpetrators of terrorism in Libya, the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and parts of the Horn of Africa.


”We reiterate that efforts must continue to be pooled to mitigate this dreadful violence and secure the future of our continent,” he said.

On new strategies to resolve conflicts on the continent, the President said: ”The AU must strengthen its own capacity for mediation and develop an effective intervention roadmap.”


He added that more emphasis should be placed on promoting national dialogue, reconciliation and social cohesion in order to rally all actors towards sustainable peace.

On the Peace Fund, the President reminded the meeting that drawing from the Kigali and Johannesburg Assembly Decisions, the fund is structured for the internal peace support arrangements within the continent and not as resources to subsidize the mandate of the UN Security Council.


”In this regard, my delegation will always fervently contest attempts to make Africa subsidise the primary responsibility of the UN as clearly provided in it Charter,” he said.

President Buhari also welcomed the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to adopt the regional stabilization strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the renewal of mandates of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.


Buhari hails ECOWAS for mobilising own funds to tackle terrorism

He told the meeting that Nigeria was very encouraged by the resolution of the continent’s standing decision-making body for conflict prevention, management and resolution, on the Lake Chad Basin.

”We are hopeful that the Inter Water Basin Transfer Initiative for the recharging of the Lake Chad will address some of the drivers of terrorism, particularly the impact of climate change and inter-communal clashes over access to natural resources.

”We equally call on the Assembly to direct the full implementation of these AU-inspired initiatives,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Gambia crisis: ECOWAS mediates ..


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has joined in the efforts at resolving the political crisis in the Gambia, it was learnt.

ECOWAS Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo on Wednesday led a 12- member delegation to the Gambian President, Adama Barrow.

Cisse Lo had previousely met with leaders of the opposition.


There is a disagreement in the coalition that brought in the President, which led to political infighting.

The President, it was learnt, had promised to stay for three years, a promise he was accused of not willing to keep.


The visit was, ECOWAS Speaker said, was primarily to thank him for hosting the last extraordinary meeting of the Community Parliament and also an opportunity to discuss the political crisis.

Briefing journalists after more than an hour meeting at the Presidency, the Speaker Cisse Lo noted that they reported to the President on issues pertaining in the Parliament.


According to the Speaker, he briefed the President on his meeting with the opposition leader as there is emerging political tension in the country but pointed out that there is the need for Gambia to have stability.

“President Adama Barrow gave us listening ear and took good note of the issues we brought to his attention; and it is my view that we undertake such visits and discuss with all parties, a country cannot develop without stability,” the Speaker stressed.

Over the weekend there was demonstration by the opposition to call on President Barrow to step down based on the three- year agreement despite the constitution giving him a five- year mandate.

Others also demonstrated calling for the return of Yahya Jammeh.


#Newsworthy…