Bola Olajuwon, Vincent Ikuomola, Sanni Onogu, Abuja
THERE were calls from across the globe on Wednesday on promoters of the military putsch in Mali to restore constitutional order.
Those mounting pressure on the military include the Federal Government; United Nations (UN); European Union (EU); African Union (AU) Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
They condemned the military action and demanded the immediate and unconditional restoration of constitutional order.
Nigeria and the other bodies called for the release of several high-ranking officials, including President Ibrahim Keita, who has resigned from office, and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.
ECOWAS specifically announced the immediate suspension of Bamako from all its decision-making bodies.
Keita and his cabinet were toppled on Tuesday by a military junta, forcing the resignation of the government and dissolution of parliament, hours after the mutinous soldiers detained him at gunpoint.
The coup plunged the country, which is already facing a jihadist insurgency and mass protests, deeper into crisis.
Mali has been battling the fall out of its 2018 election that gave President Kaita his second term.
The soldiers, who staged the coup, yesterday unfolded plans to form a civilian transitional government that will organise fresh elections.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, who tweeted from his verified handle yesterday, said the Federal Government called for the urgent activation of the ECOWAS standby force over the Mali political crisis.
Onyeama said: “The Nigerian Government unequivocally condemns the coup d’état that took place in Mali yesterday and demands the immediate and unconditional restoration of constitutional order.
“We welcome the urgent activation of the ECOWAS Standby Force.”
Following Nigeria’s pace, ECOWAS said it decided to close its member states’ borders with Mali, suspend the country from its decision-making bodies “with immediate effect” and temporarily interrupt financial flows between its other 14 members and the Malian capital, Bamako.
A statement conveying the regional body’s stance, issued yesterday by the community’s Directorate of Communications, indicated that the suspension was in line with the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
It vowed that the suspension would remain in place until effective constitutional order is reinstated in the country.
The sub-regional body said it had also closed land and air borders, stopped all economic, trade, and financial flows and transactions between ECOWAS member states and the country, urging all partners to do the same.
The statement reads: “Following its statement published on August 18, reporting on an on-going mutiny within the Malian Armed Forces, ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists.
”This seizure of power intervenes within a difficult socio-political context.
“Indeed, ECOWAS recalls that a mediation process has been on-going during the past two months, with a view to finding a solution to this crisis.
“Following this power grab by Malian military putschists, which is likely to have a negative impact on peace and stability in Mali and in sub-region, ECOWAS utterly condemns the overthrowing of President Kéita’s democratically elected government.”
It said the regional body “categorically denies any kind of legitimacy to the putschists and demands the immediate reinstatement of constitutional order.
- Reminds the military of their accountability for the safety and security of President Kéita and officials arrested.
- Demands the immediate release of President Keita and all officials arrested.
- Suspends Mali from all ECOWAS decision-making bodies with immediate effect, as per the Additional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, and this, until effective reinstatement of the constitutional order.
- Decides to close all land and air borders, as well as to stop all economical, trade and financial flows and transactions between ECOWAS member states and Mali, and encourages all partners to do the same.
- Requests the immediate activation of the ECOWAS Standby Force, and demands the immediate implementation of sanctions against all putschists as well as their partners and collaborators.”
It added: “In a bid to salvage the situation, the ECOWAS body has decided to dispatch a high-level delegation to ensure the country’s immediate return to constitutional order.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres criticised the military mutiny in Mali and called for the restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in the country.
Gueterres reacted to the development in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Stephane Dujarric, in New York.
The statement said: “The Secretary-General is following with deep concern the unfolding developments in Mali, including the military mutiny which culminated in the arrest of President Keita and members of his Government in Bamako.
“The Secretary-General strongly condemns these actions and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali.
“To this end, he demands the immediate and unconditional release of President Keita and members of his cabinet.
“The Secretary-General reiterates his calls for a negotiated solution and peaceful resolution of their differences”.
The UN chief also expressed his full support for efforts by the AU and the ECOWAS to resolves the crisis.
He urged all stakeholders, particularly the defence and security forces, to exercise maximum restraint and uphold the human rights and individual freedoms of all Malians.
The Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) will hold an Extraordinary Summit on the Mali situation today.
The Directorate of Communications of the ECOWAS Commission said yesterday that the summit, which would hold virtually through video conference.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, former Prime Minister of Chad and Chairperson of the African Union Commission, also demanded the immediate release of Keita and Cisse.
In a tweet on his personal Twitter handle, Mahamat urged the people to stop the violent takeover of government and respect the country’s constitution.
He said: “I strongly condemn any attempt at anti-constitutional change and call on the mutineers to cease all use of violence and respect for republican institutions.
“I call on #CEDEAO (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the entire international community to effectively combine their efforts to oppose any use of force to end the political crisis in Africa.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement: “The United States calls on all political and military actors to work toward a restoration of constitutional government.”
Pompeo said Washington strongly condemned the mutiny and called on all political and military actors to work towards restoration of constitutional government.
“We urge all stakeholders in Mali to engage in peaceful dialogue, to respect Malians’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to reject violence,” he added.
However, the soldiers who staged the coup leading to the resignation of President Keita and his government, said, they plan to form a civilian transitional government that will organise fresh elections.
In a statement broadcast on state-owned television early yesterday, a spokesman for the mutineers calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People said they had decided to act to prevent Mali from falling further into chaos.
The committee spokesman, Col. Ismael Wague, invited Mali’s civil society and political movements to join them to create conditions for a political transition that would lead to elections.
“Our country is sinking into chaos, anarchy and insecurity mostly due to the fault of the people, who are in charge of its destiny,’’ he said.
The mutinous soldiers announced the creation of the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) to lead a political transition toward general elections.
Col. Wague, in a statement read on national television, said: “We are not keen on power, but on the stability of the country, which will allow us to organise elections within a reasonable time-frame to allow Mali to equip itself with strong institutions that are capable of managing our daily lives.
“In order to prevent the country from sinking, we, the patriotic forces gathered together in the CNSP, have decided to take our responsibilities to ensure the continuity of the state and public services,” Wague said.
The spokesperson also announced a series of decisions coming into force yesterday until further notice, including the closure of all air and land borders, and a 9am to 5am curfew.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said this at a news conference yesterday that “China is closely monitoring the situation in Mali. We are opposed to power transition via the use of military force or any other unlawful methods.”
Beijing calls upon the Malian conflict parties to “consider the country’s root interests, solve the disagreements via dialogue, restore order as soon as possible and ensure stability and unity of the nation.”
The spokesman also expressed China’s support for efforts of the regional and international organisations, particularly the AU and the ECOWAS, in promoting the peace process in Mali.
Former Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Senator Ike Ekweremadu also condemned the military coup in Mali.
The senator noted that Mali was strategic in the war against insurgency, adding that political instability in the West African nation portended dire consequences for West Africa and the Sahel region.