Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Muhammadu Buhari, has sent a special envoy to Mali over the political developments in the country.
A statement by Sarah Sanda, media aide to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the delegation led by the minister, included the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou.
Sanda said on arrival in Bamako, the Malian Capital, that the delegation met with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mahamat Saleh Annadit, alongside representatives of the African Union and the European Union, as well as ambassadors of France and the Netherlands.
“The delegation also met with the main opposition leader and Presidential Candidate, Soumaila Cisse, who lost to incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in a second-round runoff vote held on August 12,” Sanda said.
Recall that Cisse, a former Malian Finance Minister, came second with 32 percent of votes behind Keita, who secured 67 percent, in the repeat presidential polls.
The two contestants also went into a runoff election in 2013, which was won by Keïta.
The delegation, Sanda further said, also met with Malian Prime Minister, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, with some cabinet ministers in attendance.
“In all the meetings, the message was clear: H.E President Muhammadu Buhari as Chairman of ECOWAS insists on inclusivity in nation building and politics. It has to be all about the country, people, development and good governance. We begin to have problems when it starts to be about individuals, so he wanted us to communicate this message,” Special Envoy Onyeama said.
Sanda added that after meeting with all the protagonists, Onyeama said the meetings were fruitful.
“We met with the UN Special Representative, ambassadors of certain European countries, African Union Representative, the Prime Minister, one of the opposition leaders who contested the presidency and lost out and we’ve just met with the President, so we interacted with all the main actors in the country.
“We communicated H.E. President Mohammed Buhari’s message which was very well received. They have a lot of respect for him and want him to play a role in shepherding the country forward.
“There are promising developments which we want to see come into fruition. There is the legislative election which all agreed should be postponed as the country is not ready for it and we are happy and willing to build a consensus for it. There is also a constitutional reform which everybody believes is important for the country going forward, as well as electoral reforms and we can see how important it is that going forward and engaging with those reforms, there is total inclusivity.
“All the parties involved and all the others are involved, that is the only way of guaranteeing the ownership of the people and political actors in the country or for the country and its institutions going forward.
“We are also very happy that the President, H.E. Boubacar Keïta, also shares the same vision of inclusivity and strong institutions,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama however said there were still trust-building and consensus steps to be taken, adding that the agreement on all sides to postpone the legislative elections and movement towards electoral reforms are positives.
Onyeama further said that the main actors had a consensus about the need to undertake constitutional and electoral reforms.
“So, we have to keep supporting them to go along that line and for all the parties to be involved in the process,” Onyeama concluded.