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President Akufo-Addo sets stage for resolution of Mali crisis

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem
The military junta in Mali, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, which seized power on August 18, this year, was at the summit
The military junta in Mali, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, which seized power on August 18, this year, was at the summit

Marshalling the diplomatic finesse under his sleeves as a politician and a statesman, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday set the stage for the resolution of one of West Africa’s challenging political crises.

He rallied his peers in the 15-nation regional bloc — the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) — to a consultative meeting at the Peduase Lodge near Aburi in the Eastern Region in a bid to get the junta that toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali to hand over power to a transitional administration headed by a civilian.

At the end of the meeting, the ECOWAS Chairman left no one in doubt that he was determined to see the situation normalised in no time.

Leaders who attended the conference were the Togolese President, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe; President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; President Mahamadou Issofou of Niger, President Alpha Conde of Guinea, and President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire.

Security

The leaders were earlier received at the Kotoka International Airport from about 7 a.m. by the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Minister of Inner City and Zongo Development, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.

The road from the airport to the Peduase Lodge was secure and almost every intersection had at least two police officers.

Security at the Presidential Lodge, located on top of the Aburi mountain where the meeting was held, was also tight.

Junta leader

The leader of the Junta - National Committee for the Salvation of the People, Col Assimi Goita, arrived at the meeting in his military camouflage.

Col Goita, who is heading Mali's special forces, was also the leader of the operation against a 2015 jihadist attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako. He was accompanied by some uniformed bodyguards.

The discussions were held behind closed doors after which President Akufo-Addo briefed the Francophone media in French. He also addressed the Anglophone media on the outcome of the meeting.

Charter

Two days to the Peduase meeting, Col Goita had led the military leaders to push through a political charter to establish an 18-month transitional government in Mali.

Reports said the charter could lead to the appointment of an interim President, who could either be a civilian or a soldier, although the opposition in the country was strongly opposed to the move.

It has been the decision of Col Goita and his team to see the interim President preside over a transitional period of 18 months before elections are held.

Critical

President Akufo-Addo described the consultative meeting as critical because it would restore normalcy in the end.

The ECOWAS Chairman explained that the circumstances of life in Mali today required that closure be brought to the matter now and expressed the belief that the face-to-face meeting between the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, and the military leaders of Mali would provide the best opportunity to find a firm resolution.