West African leaders have expressed disappointment at the inhuman treatment being meted out to African refugees and migrants in Libya.
They have strongly condemned what has been described as “modern-day slavery” and pledged their commitment to work with international organisations and partners to end what they called a barbaric practice.
At the end of their meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, last Saturday, the leaders welcomed efforts being made by some member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other partner organisations and governments to repatriate citizens of member countries from Libya.
They underscored the need for the efforts to be harmonised to ensure efficiency in the repatriation exercise.
In a communique to climax the 52nd Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS, the West African leaders expressed their support for the demand being made by the African Union (AU) for investigations into the act and for the perpetrators to be punished.
On the situation in Guinea Bissau, the communique expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on the peace process in that country, in spite of the decisions taken during the 51st Session held in Monrovia, Liberia, on June 4, 2017.
It said the authority had taken note of the road map presented by Guinea Bissau’s President, Mario Vaz, for the full implementation of the Conakry Agreement, especially in respect of the appointment of a consensus Prime Minister for that country to harmonise the implementation of the road map that would satisfy all.
It, therefore, called on Presidents Alpha Conde and Faure Gnassingbe of Guinea and Togo, respectively, to continue consultations within the next two months, failure of which would result in collective and individual sanctions being imposed on all those “who have constituted themselves into obstacles”.
The Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS also called on the international community to support ECOWAS when the imposition of those sanctions became expedient.
It congratulated Guinean President Conde, who is the ECOWAS Mediator for Guinea Bissau, on his sustained effort in mediation in the Guinea Bissau situation.
On the situation in Togo, the West African leaders expressed concern over the persistent political tension in that country.
They welcomed the efforts being made to calm the situation, especially those by the Togolese government to create an environment that would be appropriate for a national dialogue.
They also welcomed the efforts by ECOWAS, and in particular the “outstanding efforts of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and President Conde, the current Chair of the AU, who are seeking reconciliation among Togolese political parties and the promotion of dialogue such that there will be a peaceful exit from the crisis”.
They appealed to the political stakeholders in Togo to fully commit to dialogue to make for the implementation of political reforms, while respecting constitutional order and democratic institutions.
They confirmed their readiness to support Togo in the dialogue process and the constitutional reforms.
The leaders welcomed efforts by the Malian government to ensure the implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement and also endorsed the signing of a truce between the belligerents on August 23, 2017.
They, however, expressed worry over the spread of terrorist attacks in northern and central Mali and condemned the needless attacks on innocent civilians.
They also welcomed the decision of the Malian government to build the capacity of the Malian defence forces and their deployment across the national territory, so that they would be well positioned to protect the country.
With regard to the situation in The Gambia, the West African leaders said they were happy with efforts at rebuilding and consolidating the democratic process and promoting national reconciliation.
They also welcomed the establishment of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Committee and urged the government to ensure justice for the victims of former President Jammeh.
On Liberia, they praised the crucial role played by the Supreme Court of that country in managing the controversies that came up after the first round of its elections.
They urged the National Electoral Commission to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court, such that the run-off on December 26, 2017 would be peaceful and transparent.
On the admission of new members to ECOWAS, and in the specific case of the Kingdom of Morocco and the granting of an observer status to Tunisia, as well as the granting of an associate status to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the West African leaders said they had decided to constitute a committee of Heads of State, comprising Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria and Togo, to look at the consequences and implications of any new membership.