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ECOWAS Urged to Include Politicians to Resolve Mali Crisis

May 14, 2012

by Peter Clottey

A prominent politician in Mali has called on West African regional leaders to include Malian politicians in efforts to resolve the country’s political and security challenges.

Niankoro Yeah Samake, leader of the Party for Patriotic and Civic Action (PACP), said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “is to blame for the lack of transitional progress to restore constitutional order in Mali.”

“ECOWAS is solely engaged with the junta for the resolution of the problem, excluding all of the political leaders in Mali, and this solution needs to be national and local. Politicians from Mali should be involved in the resolution of the situation,” said Samake.

“It has taken [ECOWAS] so long to make any impact on the progress that I believe there is a lack of good faith on the side of ECOWAS, in resolving the political issue now in Mali.”

Samake’s comments came after the sub-regional bloc threatened to reimpose financial economic and diplomatic sanctions on junta leaders if they block efforts to restore civilian rule.

He said Malians are displeased with the lack of progress to restoring constitutional rule following the March ouster of former President Amadou Toumani Toure, as well as with the rebellion in the north.

“Malians are very impatient with what is going on. They are hurt and are wondering why this is taking so long to have at least the beginning of solutions,” said Samake.

The ECOWAS Commission condemned Monday what it called “continued interference with the transition” by junta Chief Captain Amadou Sanogo and his allies.

Envoys from the sub-regional bloc quit talks with the junta because of an impasse over who will head a transitional government.

Samake said threats to reimpose sanctions on Mali are unacceptable.

“The sanctions that ECOWAS is taking [are] not justified because the people [being sanctioned] are excluded in the process…You cannot solve this problem, which is a political process by excluding political actors,” he said.

Interim president Dioncounda Traore’s 40-day mandate runs out next week and coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo reportedly wants to be installed as Mali's transitional leader.

Sanogo told journalists he will call a national convention to choose who will lead the country until elections are held.

PACP leader Samake said ECOWAS should include Mali’s neighboring countries to help resolve the security crisis in the north.

“They are excluding viable partners including Algeria and Mauritania. ECOWAS alone does not have the solution to the problem in the north. They need the collaboration, and they cannot monopolize the process,” said Samake.

“Malians need to be involved in the process, not just the military junta. Let’s make sure that this solution is Malian, and that we can all accept the outcome, and that it will be a lasting solution for all parties involved.”

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