Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari thursday called for the unconditional release of ousted President Ibrahim Keita of Mali, saying the development in the Sahelian nation, which led to the toppling of the government poses grave consequences for peace and security in West Africa, adding that it is a setback for regional diplomacy.
He condemned what he described as the unconstitutional change of government in Mali and called on the military that unseated the civilian government to act responsibly and ensure restoration of constitutional order, peace and stability.
Buhari, who yesterday joined his colleagues from West Africa to discuss the military coup in Mali called for tougher sanctions against Mali as measures to force the military to restore the country to democratic rule.
Some soldiers had rebelled on Tuesday and staged a coup, arresting Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.
Keita announced his resignation in a live broadcast on Wednesday.
Earlier in his official twitter handle, @MBUHARI, the president had condemned the action of the coupists.
“The events in Mali are great setbacks for regional diplomacy, with grave consequences for the peace and security of West Africa. It is time for the unconstitutional ‘authority’ in Mali to act responsibly and ensure restoration of constitutional order, peace and stability.
“A politically stable Mali is paramount and crucial to the stability of the sub-region. We must all join efforts, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN and other stakeholders, and work together until sanity returns to Mali with the restoration of civil administration,” he tweeted.
Also, while addressing the virtual extraordinary session of ECOWAS leaders to discuss the ouster of a democratic government in Mali, Buhari described the military rule as an aberration, which must not be allowed to stand.
Buhari said he was saddened by the coup, which he described as a setback “for regional diplomacy, which has grave consequences for the peace and security of West Africa.”
According to him, the military has no place in governance and military rule runs contrary to the protocol of ECOWAS on democracy and good governance.
He implored ECOWAS leaders to ensure that “this dastardly act” does not stand, adding that Nigeria upholds the principles of ECOWAS protocol on good governance and democracy.
He said: “Indeed, it saddens me greatly as we meet today to discuss the turn of events in Mali, which commenced on Tuesday this week, where President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, his prime minister and senior members of his government were arrested, resulting in the forcible resignation of the president as well as the dissolution of the parliament. Both acts are illegal and stand condemned.
“The action of the military runs counter to the letter and spirit of ECOWAS protocol on good governance and democracy in which unconstitutional change of governments is prohibited. The Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government should not allow this dastardly act to stand. Nigeria stands by the provisions of the protocol on good governance and democracy.
“Mali has been in political turmoil since the results of the parliamentary elections were announced in March this year. ECOWAS interventions, through a series of efforts by ministers, the special envoy and chief mediator and a group of heads of state of our organisation as well as an extraordinary summit did not yield positive results. Today, Mali has not only descended into political chaos but also socio-economic and security disaster with potentially tragic consequences to Mali and the sub-region.
“I am pleased that ECOWAS, EU, UN and France issued strongly-worded statements against the action of the Malian military. The events in Mali are great setbacks for regional diplomacy, which have grave consequences for the peace and security of West Africa. I am pleased, therefore, that this extraordinary summit, holding to discuss pathways to the debacle we face today in Mali, is most timely and appropriate.”
According to him, aside from the closure of ECOWAS borders with Mali, a series of regime of sanctions should be imposed on the country to heighten pressure on the military to restore democracy.
The president lamented that coup d’état was staged in Mali despite a series of efforts made by ECOWAS, the special envoy of the sub-regional body and Nigeria’s former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, foreign groups and individuals to resolve the impasse.
He said if all parties to the crisis had abided by recommendations made to resolve the imbroglio, the country would not have been driven to the level it is today.
He called for the release of the ousted president and his allies who have been detained since their ouster.
Buhari advocated support for all consultations being made by the Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Niger Republic, Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, with ECOWAS, African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), noting that the AU and UN had subscribed to ECOWAS protocol on good governance.
He said: “The closure of borders already called for by ECOWAS should be our first line of action. We need to isolate a series of sanction regimes that can create and sustain sufficient pressures on the military to force a return to constitutional governance.
“The critical issues for resolution in the Malian crisis had been aptly captured as the four-point pathways to peace. Within that context, and if all parties to the crisis were to abide by those recommendations, the developments now on the ground would have been avoided.
“The action of the military in Mali has regrettably hoisted on us as a sub-region, the need to decide the options that will be consistent with the provisions of the protocol on good governance and democracy, which ECOWAS, AU and the UN subscribe to. In this context, therefore, Nigeria believes that President Keita and other detainees should be released unconditionally and with immediate effect.
“Furthermore, we strongly support the efforts of our chairman, President Mahamadou Issoufou, for wider, regional and continental consultations with ECOWAS, AU and UN in adopting strong measures to promoting the early restoration of constitutional order, peace and stability in Mali.
“Military involvement in governance, in whatever guise, is an aberration that has no place in managing the business of government that suspends the constitution and with it, democratic institutions. It is time for the unconstitutional ‘authority’ in Mali to act responsibly and do the needful by heeding to the above recommendations.”
Buhari said the political stability of Mali was paramount to the stability of the entire West African sub-region, adding that hence, ECOWAS, AU and the UN could not afford to fold their arms while the situation worsens.
He also said the condemnations of the three groups were well appreciated and called for sustainable resistance to force the military to relinquish power.