The 43rd Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government opened in Abuja on Wednesday 7th July 2013 with the regional leaders calling for international support to see through
ongoing political transitions in Mali and Guinea Bissau, following security and political crises in both countries.
Host President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria set the tone in his opening remarks by recalling progress made by ECOWAS in collaboration with the international community in resolving the crises. He then
appealed for intensified assistance to bridge the financial gap of US$25 million for the provision of critical logistical support particularly air assets and deployment of international and national
observers for Mali’s 28th July 203 elections.
On Guinea Bissau, he urged ECOWAS leaders to bring “pressure to bear on the African Union and the EU to recognize the Transitional Government and lift the sanctions” on the country, to allow the resumption of bilateral cooperation with the international community.
The Nigerian President also proposed that the summit consider a donors conference in early September to raise funds for the conduct of the November 2013 election in Guinea Bissau, where ECOWAS has a military mission, ECOMIB, and also supports a Defence and Security Sector Reform Programme.
Speaking in a similar vein, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority and President of Cote d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara, called for the consolidation of the encouraging results from regional initiatives in
both countries, citing the 1st July re-hating of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to the UN Mission, MINUSMA, and the 18th June peace agreement by Malian stakeholders to
pave way for presidential elections on 28th July.
He noted similar progress and stabilization of the situation in Guinea Bissau ahead of national elections fixed for next November.
The ECOWAS chairman expressed gratitude to the international community and partners including the UN, African Union, EU, France, Chad and the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries, (CPLP), for their support and solidarity.
At his behest, the meeting observed a minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the fight against terrorism and insecurity in Mali, Nigeria and Niger.
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, said the “vision, pragmatism and courage” demonstrated by regional leaders in managing the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau have yielded tremendous results.
“Security has now been restored to the region thanks to your decision to say No to terrorism in West Africa,” he said, adding that the recent terrorist attacks in Niger “call for eternal vigilance,” and
“constitute a reminder of the need for the region and the international community to relentlessly pursue efforts to combat this scourge.”
The president also called for introspection and retrospection in order to draw lessons from the management of the Malian crisis and “strengthen our regional strategies.”
He said the international community’s contribution remains critical to the success of the transitional process in Guinea Bissau, particularly “the lifting of sanctions imposed on the country,” adding that ECOWAS “will leave no stone unturned in building a consensus around the objectives of finding a way out of the crisis.”
The summit also received goodwill messages from the African Union Commission and the UN. The AU Commission’s Special Representative for Mali and the Sahel, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya attributed the progress in Mali to the engagement of Malians, ECOWAS, the AU and other partners,
in collaboration with the rest of the international community.
On his part, the UN Special Representative for West Africa, Ambassador Said Djinnit commended the “efforts made by ECOWAS to address the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau, and to sustain the
engagement of regional and international partners in seeking lasting solution to these crises.”
In addition to the political and security situations in Mali and Guinea Bissau, the two-day ECOWAS mid-year summit is also considering the memorandum on the expansion of the membership of the ECOWAS
Commission from seven to 15 and the allocation of statutory positions to Member States.
It will also consider the Interim Report of the President of the Commission, Report of the 70th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and the Report of the 30th Meeting of the Mediation and
Security Council held on Tuesday 15th July in Abuja.