By our reporter| Former President Goodluck Jonathan, on Wednesday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari about the peace mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Mali.
Presidential spokesma, Femi Adesina in a statement, said Jonathan led an ECOWAS delegation to Mali on Saturday to negotiate the release of President Ibrahim Keita and the restoration of constitutional government ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS heads of state and leaders, scheduled for Friday.
The delegation met with the military junta that deposed Keita.
According to the statement, Jonathan said the delegation told the junta, who had asked to stay in power for three years, that ECOWAS would only allow an interim government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six months or a maximum of a year.
He also said the military leaders want ECOWAS to lift the sanctions placed on Mali “as it was already affecting the country”.
The statement quoted the former president to have said, “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 a maximum of 12 calendar months.
“The Interim Government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order.”
Jonathan disclosed that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted president, who confirmed that he resigned voluntarily, adding that he was no longer interested in his former position.
On his part, Buhari advised that Mali’s security should be prioritised rather than pursuing individual interests.
Buhari said, “About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests.”
The president 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.