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ECOWAS meets on Mali, Guinea-Bissau

Apr 13, 2012, 1:50 PM

Ministers of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council will met in Abidjan yesterday to review proposals for resolving the political crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau.

The meeting of the ministers of Foreign Affairs, who will be joined by their counterparts in charge of defence, considered recommendations by the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadire Désiré Ouédraogo, on the regional responses to the evolving situation in Mali where separatist rebels have taken over sections of the north of the country, and following the now-reversed 22nd March 2012 military coup d’état.

The ministers also considered the report of the 5th April 2012 meeting of the regional chiefs of defence staff, including the proposals for possible deployment of a regional force to assist in securing the territorial integrity of Mali against the Tuareg rebellion.

At their extra-ordinary summit in Abidjan on 27th March 2012, ECOWAS leaders served notice of the possible deployment of the regional standby force, should the rebels refuse to observe a ceasefire and engage in dialogue to resolve the political situation in northern Mali.

The summit also appointed President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso as mediator of the Mali crisis, and impressed upon the coup makers to revert to constitutional order.

The intervention of regional leaders, including through the suspension of Mali and imposition of legal, economic and diplomatic sanctions on the country, has already resulted in an agreement by the military junta to restore constitutional order by handing over to the Speaker of the National Assembly on Thursday 12th April 2012, as a first step.

The Mediation and Security Council ministerial meeting also considered proposals by President Ouédraogo for resolving the post-election crisis threatening to destabilize Guinea Bissau.

A joint delegation of ECOWAS, African Union and UN officials led by the president of the ECOWAS Commission visited the country on 31st March 2012, and met with stakeholders as part of regional efforts to douse tension over the disputed outcome of the inconclusive 18th March 2012 presidential election to replace President Bacai Sanha, who died on 9th January2012.

The dispute has stalled the organization of a run-off poll between the two presidential frontrunners – former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes and former President Kumba Yala - with the latter alleging fraud in the first round balloting.