West African leaders will Friday take a position on the political instability triggered by the military coup in Mali, President Muhmmadu Buhari said on Wednesday.
By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The President said he expected that the decision taken at the extraordinary virtual summit by Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS’) Heads of State will be acceptable to the parties in the Mali crisis.
A military coup last week, led by Col. Assimi Goita, toppled President Ibrahim Boubachar Kaita’s government.
Col Goita has declared himself leader of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People.
President Buhari spoke on the need to prioritise the security of the West African nation. He said the fact that terrorists occupy about two-thirds of Mali had made its security a priority.
The President spoke after receiving briefings from Special Envoy to Mali, former President Goodluck Jonathan.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying: “About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests.”
He said the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet tomorrow, hoping that an amicable and generally acceptable position to all interested parties would be arrived at.
Dr. Jonathan urged the President to speed up dialogue with the military coup leaders, who are seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections.
The special envoy said: “They call themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People. We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence, where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad, and not return to answer questions they may have for him.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months. The Interim Government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order.”
The former president restated as he told the media in Mali, that his team met with the ousted President, who confirmed that he resigned voluntarily, adding that he was no longer interested in returning to his former position.
He added that the military leaders want ECOWAS to lift the sanctions put in place, as it was already affecting the country.
“But we told them that the authority to do such is only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state,” Jonathan said.