By Terhemba Daka, Abuja
Nigeria’s ex-leader and ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, again yesterday, visited the Villa to brief his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, on the latest development in the landlocked West African country currently managed by the Colonel Assimi Goita-led junta.
The briefing comes ahead of tomorrow’s extraordinary virtual summit of the sub-regional’s heads of state and government.
In his report, Jonathan said the coupists were seeking to stay in power for three years before holding elections.
He added that his team had access to the ousted Ibrahim Boubacar Keita President, who confirmed his voluntary resignation voluntarily and unwillingness to return to power.
His words: “They call themselves the 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 might 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, and lasting for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months. The interim government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order.”
The special envoy said the military leaders wanted ECOWAS to lift its sanctions, as ithey were already affecting the country, adding: “But, we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state. ”
Responding, the Nigerian leader stated that the topmost priority for the time being was how to how secure the embattled nation, which he noted, had been largely occupied by terrorists.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted the President 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 submitted that the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet tomorrow.