Following the ongoing crisis in Mali, Civil Society Organisations in West Africa on Thursday, July 9, 2020, called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to prioritise its intervention process in the country.
In a letter signed by directors of about 100 CSOs across West Africa and addressed to the President of Niger Republic, Mr. Issoufou Mahamadou, the coalition said the growing political tensions in Mali must be addressed immediately.
The coalition urged Mahammadou, who doubles as the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government to address the political unrest in Mali which is as a result of the May legislative elections.
It also highlighted that the elections have placed the administration of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and the opposition, M5-RFP coalition on a collision course.
The M5-RFP coalition is comprised of the Coordination of Movements of Associations and Sympathisers of Imam Mahmoud Dicko (CMAS), the Front for the Safeguarding of Democracy (FSD)and Espoir Mali Koura (EMK).
Copied in the letter dated July 13, 2020, are the Presidents of France, Denmark, heads of the United Nations, European Union, ECOWAS Department of Political Affairs, ECOWAS department of Peacebuilding Affairs/Early Warning Unit, ECOWAS/AU commissioners for Human Rights among many others.
The CSOs warned that considering the multidimensional impact the escalation of this political crisis in Mali could have on the West Africa region, an irreparable security situation could manifest in countries like Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea.
The CSOs observed that such crisis could have a regrettable ripple effect in the lives of 172 million people across the West African region.
Led by the Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, the CSOs called on President Muhammadou to engage decisively with parties involved to resolve the deadlock between the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and the opposition M5-RFP coalition.
According to the CSOs, it is vital, in the short term, to secure and ensure peace and good governance for the people of Mali with a sustained effort to design a solution which will ensure peace and security within the country under ECOWAS treaties, norms and principles.
“We are aware that ECOWAS has engaged with the leadership in Mali, and there are signs of receptivity to dialogue and discourse. We are also encouraged by the meaningful concessions made by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta,” the letter read in part.
“The same can also be said of Imam Mahmoud Dicko, who continues to interact with diplomats, United Nations officials and the African Union (AU) representative, as all parties seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. Nevertheless, significant work is required to reach a resolution,” it read.
It also implored ECOWAS to prioritize the quest to continue to engage in Mali, with all stakeholders. This must include civil society organizations comprising youth and women’s groups; faith-based organizations representing all faiths; traditional authorities- representing all community groupings; and security sector-across the political and ideological divide.
The CSOs encouraged ECOWAS to collaborate with other diplomatic stakeholders, particularly the European Union, France, Denmark etc. to proactively engage all combatants in the North and Central Mali.
It said ending hostilities in Mali can give room for negotiations on lasting peace to take place and halt the continued human suffering due to the concurrent conflict and political crises and economic hardship already exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As the AU seeks to make progress on its campaign of ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa’ by 2020, we, as civil society and faith-based organisations, stand ready to work with ECOWAS in Mali, in any and every way possible,” the CSOs said.