Malian crisis: ECOWAS leaders meet in Accra
West African leaders are gathering in Ghana for a consultative meeting as part of efforts to resolve the Malian governance crisis.
With Mali engulfed in a political crisis that is threatening to destabilise the country, the ECOWAS leaders are hoping to use the extraordinary summit to find lasting peace for the Sahelian country.
The summit is taking place at the Presidential Villa at Peduase, near Aburi in the Eastern Region.
Heads of state in attendance include S.E. Patrice Talon of Benin; Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso; Jorge Carlos Fonseca of Cabo Verde; Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, Adama Barrow of The Gambia and Alpha Conde of Guinea.
Others are Presidents Maro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau, George Manneh Weah of Liberia, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
The rest are Presidents Macky Sall of Senegal, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe of Togo and Yemi Osibanjo of Nigeria.
The deposed Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, will not attend the summit, convened by the newly elected Chairman of ECOWAS and President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
However, the military junta in Mali, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, which seized power on August 18, this year, will be at the summit.
The junta, calling itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, has promised to restore democratic governance within 12 months, following the intervention of ECOWAS, which sent a delegation, headed by a former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, to Mali on August 23.
The Peduase Summit will be a family affair, as international bodies and foreign diplomatic/development partners will not attend the meeting, which is President Akufo-Addo’s first assignment as ECOWAS Chairman.
President Akufo-Addo, who will steer affairs at today’s summit, will stress on the need for the restoration of peace and stability in the Sahelian country, which also witnessed a coup d’etat in 2012.
All you need to know about Mali’s crisis
Political tension has been simmering following the re-election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in 2018, in a poll that opposition parties said was marred by irregularities.
Friction rose earlier this year after a dispute over the results of a parliamentary election prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets to demand Keita’s resignation.
The demonstrators accused Keita of failing to fix the country’s dire economic situation and contain years long armed campaign by various groups that has killed thousands and rendered vast swaths of Mali ungovernable.
The tension culminated on August 18 when mutinying soldiers detained Keita, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top government officials, a dramatic escalation that was condemned by regional and international powers.
Meanwhile, major roads in the country’s capital, Accra, will be temporarily closed ahead of the ECOWAS summit.
Motorists using the Liberation road to Opeibia through to the 37 Military Hospital, Kempinski Hotel to the National Theatre and Tang Palace Hotel to the Independence Avenue will have to find an alternative route.
The police, in a statement, has explained that the temporary closure and diversion is to facilitate the smooth movement of the ECOWAS Presidents’ who will be coming from the Kotoka International Airport to the stated venue.
It added that traffic police will be deployed at vantage points to assist road users.
Motorists are therefore reminded to take note and cooperate with the Ghana Police in that regard.
The roadblock is in line with measures adopted by the police as West African leaders arrive in Ghana to participate in the ECOWAS summit.