The 44th Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council of the Economic Community of West African States has called attention to the ongoing insurgency in Nigeria, Gambia and Guinea Bissau as well as the political crisis in Mali.
The Council at its meeting in Niamey, Niger, on Friday, also focused on forthcoming presidential elections in Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger.
The meeting was presided over by the Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Mediation and Security Council, Kalla Ankourao.
Ankourao recalled the challenges COVID-19 has brought upon the region coupled with the breakdown in democratic governance in Mali.
He urged the ECOWAS body to take the necessary steps for the preparation and smooth conduct of the upcoming presidential elections in the region.
The Chair said, “Special attention should be paid to the terrorist attacks in the region, particularly in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.”
On the situation in The Gambia, the Council was informed by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen Francis Behanzin, that the political climate in the country is relatively calm and peaceful.
He noted, however, that the situation remained unpredictable due to issues revolving around the constitutional review process, preparations by the Independent Electoral Commission in terms of the electoral process, and conduct of the referendum in readiness for the 2021 presidential and parliamentary elections.
After a period of frank deliberations, the Council recommended that all stakeholders are carried along by the IEC in the ongoing electoral reforms and that the outcomes of the reform processes should be implemented.
The meeting also recommended that the ECOWAS Commission seek extension for the mandate of ECOMIG, which expired in June 2020, to enable the forces to monitor the peaceful implementation of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission hearings, as they may generate additional tension in the country.
On Guinea Bissau, the Council recalled that the country was plunged into deeper political and institutional crisis immediately after the announcement of the results of the strongly contested presidential elections, held on November 24 and December 29, 2019, in the first and second rounds respectively, which returned former Prime Minister Umaro Embalo, the winner with 54 per cent of the votes.
But he was unable to present the government’s programmes to the National Assembly as provided for by the constitution due to prevailing institutional standoff.
The Council urged the authorities of Guinea Bissau to ensure the formation of an inclusive government and participatory processes, with all national stakeholders, in conformity with the provisions of the country’s constitution.
It also admonished the ECOWAS Commission to intensify its support for the new government in its efforts to consolidate democracy and inclusive reform agenda for a new constitution that may lead to national stability.
In his opening remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, reiterated the determination of the ECOWAS Commission to strengthen its working relations with member states, which he said is important in articulating the interest of the people.
He commended the strong political will of the Heads of State and Government in finding a solution to the socio-political crisis in Mali and thanked former Nigerian president, Goodluck Johnathan, ECOWAS’ Mediator in the crisis, for his commitment to resolve the Malian situation.