Buhari has urged ECOWAS leaders to exert pressure on Mali to return to the rule of law.

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday urged West African leaders to exert pressure on Mali’s military leadership to ensure that the country’s transition process does not collapse.

President Buhari made the request in a statement delivered on Saturday in Accra, Ghana, during the 59th Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

”At this Summit today, we are anticipated to evaluate a number of key reports dealing with various topics of concern to our organization and people,” said the President, speaking about the situation in Mali, which was recently suspended from the regional bloc due to a military coup.

”To accomplish so, we must make sensible and pragmatic decisions that will benefit our citizens.

”Some of those decisions will unavoidably be influenced by changing political and security realities in our sub-region, as well as an assessment of our organization’s health in the hopes of repositioning to better serve our people and sub-region.

”While democracy in our sub-region continues to progress, recent events in Mali serve as a sobering reminder that vigilance is still required to defend people’s rights to freely select the form of government they prefer.

”Pressures are needed to ensure that Mali’s transition process, which is half-way through, does not collapse.

”A further deterioration in Mali might be disastrous for the Sub-region, given that roughly half of the country is sadly under terrorist control.”

According to a statement released by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President urged Mali’s military leadership to recognize the country’s critical position, which he described as “obviously under siege.”

The President warned the military not to continue activities that would promote Mali’s destabilization and destruction, noting that the military’s primary mission is to safeguard and guarantee the country’s sovereignty.

”Through our astute Mediator, former President Goodluck Jonathan, whom I sincerely commend for his unwavering efforts thus far, I urge our organization to remain involved with all parties in Mali. I encourage him to keep up the good work so that the transfer may be accomplished on time,” he added.

On Libya, President Buhari criticized a recent UN resolution that sought to expel all foreign combatants from the country without first securing their disarmament and non-collaboration with regional actors.

”With regard to the security situation in the region, our organization must express grave concern about the United Nations’ recent decision and Resolution to expel all foreign fighters from Libya without first ensuring that they are disarmed and that neighboring countries and sub-regions are involved in putting in place modalities for containing or managing their movement.

”While this action was intended to maintain peace in Libya, the lack of collaboration with regional stakeholders on this critical decision has now created newer threats to regional peace, security, and stability, potentially leading to a lack of coordinated management of a massive humanitarian crisis across the Sahel, North, Central, and West Africa, including the Lake Chad region,” he said.

The President reiterated that the entry of fully equipped foreign fighters poses an obvious risk of instability in certain regions, saying:

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”It is critical that ECOWAS leaders decide how the UN-Sub-regional Organization Partnerships should be examined at this Summit in order to address the threats that this UN Resolution brings to the region.”

The Nigerian leader’s statement during the Summit also addressed other pressing challenges in the organization, such as ECOWAS’ ongoing institutional reforms.

The President stated unequivocally that Nigeria supports the reform process and that he looks forward to an ECOWAS that is “fit for purpose,” delivering services to the satisfaction of community residents.

He praised the Commission’s President and his team, as well as the Ad-hoc Ministerial Committee on Institutional Reforms and the Council of Ministers, for their good report to the Authority of Heads of State.

”With the current worldwide economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have clearly realized that operating a bloated administration will be to the detriment of services to our people, which is not sustainable.

”This excellent measure will undoubtedly assist our organization to move forward and provide services to our Community citizens’ pleasure.

”Let me remind you that this is just the beginning; the responsibility for cutting operational costs, as well as the processes for the appointment of Statutory positions of the incoming management, remain unresolved.

”I believe that adhering to existing procedures that govern the selection of statutory appointees will help to ensure the organization’s efficiency and long-term viability,” he said.

President Buhari, in his capacity as the ECOWAS champion in the fight against Covid-19, emphasized the necessity for more residents in the region to be vaccinated, as well as the need of adhering to other non-pharmaceutical measures.

He warned against complacency in national and regional efforts to combat the pandemic, saying the West African area was in the grip of a third wave.

”The Covid-19 epidemic struck the region in two waves, the second of which was more widespread and resulted in higher fatality rates.

”Although we appear to have passed through the second wave, there is a considerable risk that we may be hit by a third wave similar to what is occurring in other parts of the world, especially given the poor vaccination rates.

”It is therefore vital to maintain monitoring and to implement smart non-pharmaceutical public health measures as needed.

”We must not give up; our Ministers of Health should strengthen their regular Coordinating Committee meetings in partnership with WAHO to maintain a unified regional approach in the fight against Covid-19.”

Nigeria’s dedication to the Organization’s lofty goals was reiterated by President Buhari, who said:

”I encourage us to take greater actions to ensure that the Organization realizes the objectives of its forefathers, which include a fully integrated sub-region that is economically, politically, socio-culturally united, and secure in order to allow for its long-term development and growth.”

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