Mali Crisis: ECOWAS leaders take tough decisions, ask 31 parliamentarians to resign

Leaders of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) have called on the 31 parliamentarians holding controversial seats to resign.

This was one of the resolutions reached by the ECOWAS leaders at the end of their extraordinary meeting held virtually on Monday morning.

“The Heads of State and Government ask all political parties to endeavour to obtain the immediate resignation of all the 31 Members of Parliament whose election is contested.

“These resignations will pave the way for by-elections. Pending these by-elections, the Parliament will operate with the 116 remaining Members,” the leaders said in a communique issued at the end of their meeting.

The communique was read by Nigeria’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Zubairu Dada.

The West African leaders, however, did not agree with the opposition’s call for the resignation of President Ibrahim Keita. Instead, they demanded the formation of a unity government and called on the opposition to be part of the unity government.

A resistance group in Mali, M5, is insisting that the Constitutional Court must be dissolved, and the president resigns, before peace can return to the country.

The crisis erupted after the court nullified results of 31 parliamentary seats in the polls held recently, awarding victory to some other contenders, which the resistance group said was at the instigation of President Keita.

Riots on July 10 led to the killing of some protesters by security agents, causing the crisis to spiral out of control, hence the intervention by ECOWAS.

But the Special Envoy of ECOWAS to Mali, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who earlier paid a peace mission to Mali last two weeks, said: “ECOWAS felt that the violent protest should not continue, so I should lead a special team to go again and engage them (protesters).

Mr Jonathan, who described the outcome of their mission to Mali as partially successful, expressed the hope that normalcy would soon be restored to the troubled country.

Read the communique from today’s meeting below.

1. The Heads of States and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held an extraordinary Summit by Visio conference on July 27th 2020. They examined the current socio-political situation in Mali, characterised by demonstrations initiated early June 2020 by a group which includes political parties, civil society organisations and various religious associations. This group is called the June 5 Movement Group of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP).

2. This socio-political situation is taking place in a difficult context for Mali, characterised by a serious security threat with recurring terrorist attacks, inter-community tensions in the Central part of the country, a social tension marked by a long strike of school teachers, a health crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and financial consequences.

3. This current crisis is quite similar to the 2012 one when violent demonstrations led to a military coup on March 22, 2012. It is useful to recall that this 2012 military coup plunged the Republic of Mali into uncertainty and favoured the expansion of terrorist jihadist groups in the country.

4. In order to avoid the repetition of this situation, an ECOWAS Ministerial Mission was deployed to Bamako from June 18 to 20th by the Chairperson of ECOWAS to help resolve the crisis. The Ministerial Mission established the diagnostic of the crisis and proposed solutions along with some recommendations. Unfortunately, these recommendations were not implemented and demonstrations continued. They were particularly violent on July 10th, 11th and 12th and led to numerous deaths, and casualties, with public and private property destructions.

5. With the deterioration of the situation, ECOWAS appointed H.E. DR. GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, GCFR, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a Special Envoy to lead a Mediation mission to reduce tension. The Mediator conducted a mission to Bamako from July 15th to 19th 2020 and after meeting all stakeholders, formulated a Roadmap for a way out of the crisis. This roadmap was accepted by most stakeholders with the exception of the Strategic Committee of M5-RFP which maintained its demands, namely: The resignation of the President of the Republic of Mali; The establishment of a transitional regime; The establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the deaths on July 10th, 11th and 12th, and the release of the Honourable Soumaïla Cissé, head of the Parliamentarian Opposition, abducted during the legislative elections.
The M5-RFP has also announced that they will resume demonstrations.

6. To curb this spiral of violence and reach a lasting solution, a Mission of five (5) Heads of State went to Bamako on Thursday 23 July 2020. This mission comprised of H.E. Mahamadou IssoUFOU, President of the Republic of Niger, current Chairperson of ECOWAS Authority; H.E. Nana Akufo ADDO, President of the Republic of Ghana; H.E. Alassane OUATTARA, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; H.E. Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal. The Mission met the President of the Republic of Mali, H.E. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, as well as the main stakeholders such as the M5-RFP Strategic Committee with their Spiritual Leader, the Presidential majority in Parliament, and civil society leaders. The mission indicated to all the stakeholders its vision for a necessary and quick way out of this crisis.

7. Given the seriousness and the urgency of this situation, the Heads of State and Government suggested holding an Extraordinary Summit with a view to examine the situation and take the necessary decisions to restore peace and stability in Mali.

8. Following this Extraordinary Summit, the Heads of State and Government express their condolences to the grieving families and wish a prompt recovery to the wounded. They express deep concerns on this situation likely to increase instability in Mali, and in the sub-region. They reiterate their call to all Malian stakeholders to avoid violence and resort to dialogue for the resolution of the dispute in a context marked by the multidimensional difficulties that Mali is facing.

9. They congratulate the Mediator and the ECOWAS Commission for the Work done and express their support to all proposals put forth by the Mediation and included in the Roadmap.

10. The Heads of State and Government insisted on the importance and the need to respect the Institutions of the Republic, especially the Constitutional means of ascending to power in conformity with the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
11. The Heads of State and Government noted that the main Malian Institutions are inoperative. It is therefore paramount to re-establish as quickly as possible, these sovereign Institutions necessary for the proper functioning of the State and the management of all issues raised by demonstrators.

12. The Head of States and Government, therefore, took the following decisions

The Parliament: The Heads of State and Government ask all political parties to endeavour to obtain the immediate resignation of all the 31 Members of Parliament whose election is contested. These resignations will pave the way for by-elections. Pending
these by-elections, the Parliament will operate with the 116 remaining Members.

b. The Constitutional Court the Heads of State and Government ask all the relevant Institutions to facilitate its immediate recomposition according to legal provisions in Mali. The Parliament will propose its representatives after the resignation of the 31 members whose election is contested and the installation of the new bureau. In case of difficulty for the various bodies in designating their members to the Constitutional Court, the President of the Republic will use the exceptional power provided by Article 50 of the Constitution of Mali to nominate the 9 members.

C. The Executive Branch: A National Unity Government will be established rapidly in line with the recommendations of the Mediator. The Heads of States and  Government encourage the opposition, in particular, the M5-RFP, to participate in this National Unity Government. The main task of this National Unity Government will be to deal with the consequences of the demonstrations and to implement all reforms and recommendations issued from the Inclusive National Dialogue and to improve governance. In particular, the implementation of the Algiers Agreements will need to be accelerated. Given the numerous challenges facing the country, Some
members of Government will be nominated before the National Unity Government is formed. These are the ministries in charge of Defense, Justice, Foreign Affairs, National Security and Finance.

d. Inquiries: the Heads of State and Government ask the relevant authorities to conduct quickly those inquiries to determine and identify those responsible for the violence that led to deaths and casualties as well as public and private properties destruction on July 10th, 11th, and 12th 2020

Finally, the Heads of State and Government:
Reiterate their solidarity with the Honourable Soumaila CISSE, Leader of the Opposition abducted since March 25″ 2020. They insist on the Malian Authorities to intensify efforts for his release.

Ask the ECOWAS Commission to put in place a Monitoring Committee for the implementation of all the above measures. This Committee will include representatives from Government, Parliament, the Judiciary, Civil Society, M5-RFP, women, the youth, with the participation of the local Representative of the African Union the Uritet YatishanEtaiet by ECOWAS.

Ask all stakeholders to implement all the above decisions and measures within 10 days. The ECOWAS Heads of State and Government request the commission to consider sanctions against all those who act contrary to the normalization process of the crisis.

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