From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged West African leaders to exert pressure on the military leadership in Mali to ensure that the transition process to civil rule in the country is not aborted.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, disclosed that Buhari made his position known in an address delivered at the 59th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Accra, Ghana.
Buhari who spoke on the situation in Mali, which was recently suspended from the regional bloc due to a military coup said: “At this summit today, we are expected to review a number of important reports dealing with various issues of concern to our organisation and people. In doing so, we must take realistic and practical decisions, which will positively impact our citizens.
“Some of those decisions necessarily will have to do with evolving political and security situations in our sub-region as well as evaluate the health of our organisation with the hope of repositioning to serve our people and sub-region better.
“While democracy continues to develop in our sub-region, recent events in Mali are sad reminders that vigilance remains a crucial imperative to protect people’s aspirations to freely choose the form of government they want.
“Pressures are needed to ensure that the transition process in Mali, which is half-way to its conclusion, is not aborted.
“A further slide in Mali could prove catastrophic to the sub-region, considering that about half of that country is unfortunately under the grip of terrorists,” he said.
The Nigerian leader, therefore, appealed to the military leadership in Mali to understand the critical state of their country, which he described as being “clearly under siege.”
Noting that the principal responsibility of the military must be to protect and guarantee the sovereignty of the West African country, the president cautioned them not to perpetuate acts that would facilitate the destabilisation and destruction of Mali.