Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Nigeria’s former President and Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of the Wise (CoW), Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has said the sub-region would not accept the five-year transition period proposed by the military government in Mali because it is too long.

Jonathan, who is also ECOWAS Chief Mediator on the Mali crisis, said military regimes had become an aberration in the sub-region and could no longer be tolerated.

He spoke yesterday in Lagos during a press conference at the end of a two-day strategic retreat of the ECOWAS Council of the Wise.

Jonathan stressed that the proposal for a five-year transition period for the military regime by the Malian parliament was unacceptable because the time was not only too long, but also untenable.

The president stated, “If the parliament approves that, I don’t believe ECOWAS will accept it. I cannot say authoritatively because I am not the chair of the Authority of ECOWAS, but because I am the mediator, we feel that five years is too long for a transitional government. In 2012, when we had a similar experience in Mali, it was one and a half years within which elections were done, when the former speaker of parliament became the interim president.

“And within one and a half years elections were done. Niger, of course, that was 2011, when I was still head of state, when the military intervention happened, it was within 12 months, elections were conducted. We had a similar case in Burkina Faso within that period; within 12 months elections were conducted.

“We believe that ECOWAS does not want any coup d’état in the sub-region anyway. But assuming it happens, we believe that the period they will hold office should not be so long.

“In this February, they have spent about one and a half years already. Adding another five years is six and a half years. ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State will discuss it, but I believe ECOWAS may not accept it.

“We are going to negotiate it further with them and see that they reduce it because five years plus one and a half years, that is six and a half years, it is almost two tenures of an elected government. And I think for a transitional government it does not really add up.”

Jonathan said as part of a strategy to quicken the development of the region, ECOWAS was considering re-capitalisation of its regional bank.

He stated, “We also looked at some other things, like we have recommended that the ECOWAS Bank of Investment and Development should be capitalised properly and restructured so that it will play a key role in terms of assisting people in the private sector to build small and medium scale industries across the sub-region.

“That will increase the opportunity of young people getting loans to develop businesses and also create jobs for others. So we looked at other things, but basically none of these will bring immediate answer to a situation in a place like Mali. Already, the military are there and they want to stay for another five years. So that should be through negotiation, which the council of the wise will work with the commission, we will work with the Authority of Heads of State and Government to get that done.”

He added, “So when you now raise the issue of Mali parliament that have approved the five-year term transition, the parliament of Mali is a part of the government of Mali that is in operation. They are not elected members of the parliament and that is why ECOWAS parliament won’t even accept them to meet with the ECOWAS parliament. Because for you to be a member of the ECOWAS parliament you must be elected by your people.”

Credit/THISDAY

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