ECOWAS, Mali and government of national unity

Since its independence in 1960, Mali has had some major political upheavals. These upheavals have left Mali in political, humanitarian and social crisis.
Currently, a political conflict is being witnessed in Mali while, as usual, the international community works to combat the many issues hindering Mali from achieving sustainable peace.
Of course, the fact that foreign intervention is needed to solve crisis in Mali and that there have been numerous uprisings in the country raise some critical questions: Why the conflicts in Mali? How effective will the measures worked out by the international be in addressing the current problems in Mali?

Well, the measures promise to be effective.In fact, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government adopted a declaration to settle the political crisis in the Republic of Mali.This declaration is championed by President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterparts in ECOWAS member states. In the ECOWAS, Nigeria is considered as the political and economic leader of the sub-region and it is also the most populous African state.
During a virtual extraordinary session of the leaders of the sub-regional body, Buhari appealed to the government and people of Mali to consider recommendations of ECOWAS Special Envoy, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his team, calling for the formation of government of national unity to resolve the political crisis in Mali.
He said the government of national unity will provide inclusivity and ensure peaceful co-existence.

Present at the virtual extraordinary meeting were the Presidents of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Cape Verde, The Gambia, and Niger Republic, who is the ECOWAS Chairman.
Equally present was Mr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of ECOWAS Commission.
The meeting adopted positions to resolve crisis sparked off by disputed parliamentary elections held in Mali, which had led to widespread riots, arson and killings in the West African country.
The leaders urged for the formation of a Government of National Unity to comprise 50% nominees by government of the day, headed by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 30% by the opposition, and 20% by civil society groups.
It was also agreed that given the numerous challenges facing the country, some members of government such as the ministers in charge of defence, justice, foreign affairs, national security and finance will be nominated before the National Unity Government is formed.
The leaders called on the parliamentarians whose election sparked the crisis to step down and new elections should be conducted as speedily as possible.
Significantly, too, the ECOWAS called for establishment of constitutional court and commission of enquiry to identify those responsible for violence in July.

Release of opposition figure, Soumaila Cisse, was also, among other recommendations made and the ECOWAS Commission will put in place a monitoring committee for the implementation of the measures adopted.Essentially, however, the ECOWAS leaders made it clear that the sub-region would not support or condone an anti-constitutional change of government anywhere in West Africa.
Thus, in his speech, Buhari urged the Malian political leaders to accept the “Government of National Unity where inclusivity of participation in the affairs of governing their country will be a responsibility of each and every Malian actor.”
Buhari highlighted the significance of making compromise and concessions for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis by the feuding political actors.In principle, power-sharing, such as the type being pushed for by Buhari and his colleagues, enables conflicting groups to remedy longstanding patterns of antagonism and discrimination, and to build a more just and stable society for all.
It should be said, though, that any power-sharing arrangement is a much broader concern that does not rest simply with elected representatives and other government officials. In the long run, its success relies on shoulders of the Malians, who all have to make their contributions to make it work.Of course, there are different types and often competing power-sharing arrangements but they all, fundamentally, attempt to achieve the same or, arguably, similar goals.

Therefore, irrespective of the type and place, but particularly in Mali, political actors, political parties, warring factions, opposition leaders, institutions, diverging ethnic populations and even religions should all play a major role in the creation and subsequent fulfillment of proposed power-sharing deals for peace to reign in Mali.
No matter the degree of grievances of the political actors and Malians in general against one another or their government, irrespective of everyone’s desires and wishes, the goal of any power-sharing arrangement, including the kind proposed in Mali, is to include all players, or as many as possible, in a mutually benefitting environment.

It is, therefore, expected that Malians will view the intervention in their country, championed by the ECOWAS, as a big opportunity for their country to get the help it needs to end its current crisis.
The Malians can, of course, make their contribution in the process by cooperating with the government, refraining themselves from engaging in violence and performing their civic duty.

 The need for security in the Gulf of Guinea
Indeed, now, more than any other time, it can be safely said that it is in the best interest of member states, Nigeria, in particular, to fortify the Gulf of Guinea Commission in order to enhance security and enable it perform other roles for which it was established for.
This fact was highlighted by President Muhammadu Buhari during his virtual meeting with the Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Mrs Florentina Adenike Ukonga, a Nigerian.
During the meeting, Mrs Ukonga highlighted the many ills plaguing the commission such as lack of funds, non-payment of annual dues by member countries, poor attendance at meetings or sending of low-level representation, and non-holding of elections to determine who the next chairman would be, since Nigeria finished its tenure in 2018.
The Gulf of Guinea Commission is the framework for consultation on issues of development and cooperation by members.
Ukonga decried lack of commitment to the Commission by the member states and warned that this inadequacy has led to, support and promote, some criminal activities including overfishing of the waters, oil theft, pollution and arms trafficking.

The Republics of Angola, Cameroun, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe’ form the Gulf of Guinea Commission to reinforce and consolidate the fraternal relations existing among their people.
The commission was established to also remove obstacles likely to impede their cooperation, to create and maintain conditions of peace and security among the members.
Regrettably, in recent years little attention was given by the members with the significance of the commission appearing with to be declining. Chiefly, piracy and oil bunkering, ills that can be addressed by the commission, have now become the practice in the Gulf.
It is estimated that the Gulf of Guinea is now the source of 2.7% and 4.5% of the world’s reserves in gas and oil, respectively. It has also become a focal point of piracy – including ‘petro-piracy’ – and acts of armed robbery at sea. This inevitably affects the local populations’ ability to benefit from Africa’s growing maritime economy.
“The Gulf of Guinea is very strategic, and it is regrettable that most member states of the Commission are not up and doing,” President Buhari said.He, therefore, called on the leaders of member-countries to ‘check the theft of oil through the Gulf, the smuggling of arms and ammunition, and the breaking of border regulations through the waters.”
In fact, it is based on the strategic significance of the Gulf of Guinea that the members need to do something quickly to address the problems it faces.It is, therefore, noteworthy, that Buhari said that Nigeria would be alive to its responsibilities to the commission in terms of prompt payment of dues and write leaders of member states “to participate actively in the programmes of the Commission and defray their financial commitments.

However, it should be noted that solutions to the Gulf Region’s persistent maritime challenges will not be easy but will need to be sustained and comprehensive.
Any proposed solutions should have the involvement of local people and, of course, their governments just as improvements in local naval capabilities, capacity and effectiveness would, certainly, give more teeth to the Commission and its initiatives of tackling crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
In the same vein, solutions should target enhancement of domestic law-enforcement capabilities and economic-development initiatives of member states. They should guarantee better integration of local populations into the maritime economy by ensuring that the people of the Gulf benefit from the economic activities taking place there.

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