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Jonathan briefs Buhari, says Mali’s military leaders want ECOWAS’ sanctions lifted


Presidential villa

Goodluck Jonathan, a former president of Nigeria and the leader of the Economic Community of West African States – ECOWAS – delegation to Mali has met with his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari and briefed him about the meeting with the military junta.

It was gathered that the ECOWAS delegation met with the leaders of the military coup that ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali between Saturday and Sunday, this month.

And Jonathan, Buhari’s predecessor and leader of Africa’s most populous nation, in the Tuesday briefing held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the priority in Mali now should be securing the country, which is largely occupied by terrorists.

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This was disclosed in a statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

Adesina said the meeting between the two leaders comes ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS heads of state and leaders, scheduled for Friday.

“It makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests,” he quoted Buhari as saying.

The President was further quoted as saying that the sub-region will 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 will be arrived at.

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Former president Jonathan updated the President Buhari on dialogue with the military coup leaders, who are seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections.

“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 will be acceptable to ECOWAS is an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and a maximum of 12 calendar months.

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“The Interim Government will then organise elections to restore full constitutional order,” Jonathan reported.

Jonathan also disclosed that when his team met with Keita, he confirmed that he had resigned voluntarily.

The former Nigerian president added that Keita stressed that he is 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 remains in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state.”