By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Ousted Malian President, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, has turned down calls to be reinstated to power. ECOWAS Special Envoy and former President, Goodluck Jonathan, disclosed this yesterday while briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the political crisis in Mali at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Dr Jonathan, who brought the President up to speed on dialogue with the military coup leaders seeking to stay in power for three years before holding elections, said: “They call themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People.
‘’We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence, where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad, and not return to answer questions they may have for him.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months. The Interim Government would then organize elections to restore full constitutional order.”
Dr Jonathan disclosed that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted President who confirmed that he resigned voluntarily and was no longer interested in returning to his former position.
He added that the military leaders want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place, as it was already affecting the country, “but we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state.”
In his remarks, President Buhari at the meeting said the priority in Mali now should be securing the country, which is largely occupied by terrorists.
The meeting came ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS heads of state and leaders, scheduled for Friday.
The President in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said: “About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests.”
He said the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet on Friday, hoping that an amicable and generally acceptable position to all interested parties would be arrived at.