Pres. Weah Calls for Return to Constitutional Rule in Mali

MONROVIA- August 20-The President of the Republic, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, has condemned the ouster of Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita by mutinous soldiers. The Liberian Leader said the “illegitimate action” is “completely unacceptable” and runs contrary to ECOWAS’ protocols on democracy and good governance. 

Dr. Weah made the assertion on Thursday, August 20, 2020, during a virtual Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which was called to discuss the political crisis in Mali.

He said Liberia stands by ECOWAS in its action against the coup leaders but warns that economic and other sanctions would compound the woes of ordinary Malians.

According to presidential release issued on Thursday, the said seizure of power in Mali is an unfortunate incident and ill-fated attempt to return Mali to military rule of its ugly past and to reverse the hard-won democratic gains that the Malian people deserve and demand.

“Liberia categorically condemns this illegitimate action in the strongest possible terms, which is completely unacceptable under the ECOWAS Agreement on Democracy and Good Governance, and which poses a major security threat to our entire sub-region,” The President said in a statement.

He said while Liberia is prepared to give its full backing to measures that ECOWAS will resolve to take in order to bring stability and a return to constitutional order in Mali, including the suspension of Mali from all decision-making bodies of ECOWAS, “I would advise that we exercise the utmost caution and give our most careful consideration of the likely unintended consequences of these measures.” 

Pres. Weah said sanctions, such as embargos or the closure of air and land borders, will negatively affect the Malian people, “whose interests we are trying to protect and secure while the use of military force through the activation and deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force must be given thorough thought.”

Speaking further on other ECOWAS issues, Dr. Weah commended His Excellency Umaru Sissico Umbalo, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, for his steadfast pursuit of peace and democracy in his country following many years of unrest.

Dr. Weah described President Umbalo’s decision and action to pursue the path of democratic rule in Guinea Bissau are in line with the tenets of good governance and will lead to lasting peace and prosperity for Guinea Bissau.

“We are pleased with his example as a leader who upholds the protocols of our regional organization,” the President said.

He also expressed appreciation to H.E. Issoufou MAHAMADOU, President of the Republic of Niger and Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, for convening this Extraordinary Summit on the political crisis in Mali.

The Liberian Chief Executive told his colleagues: “We have all agreed on zero-tolerance in our sub-region for any undemocratic or unconstitutional change of an elected government.  Over many years now, we have exerted our concerted efforts as a regional body to put an end to wars and coups. In so doing, we have shared our treasure and shed our blood, and many of our brave soldiers have died in the cause of maintaining peace and upholding the tenets of democracy.”

“We all share the view that any person or group that wants a regime change must wait for the next election, when they can lawfully to do so through the ballot and not the bullet.  In the Liberian experience, coup d’états have never solved any problems, but have in fact exacerbated them with long term negative consequences.”

President Weah then called on all sides in the Malian conflict to return to the mediation process that ECOWAS has spearheaded since the beginning of this socio-political crisis in that country, in keeping with protocols and mandates relating to conflict prevention, management, resolution, peacekeeping, and security. 

Additionally, the Liberian Leader urged his colleagues to demand the immediate release of President Keita, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse, and all other officials now under arrest.

“We call on the mutineers to safeguard the personal security and safety of these detained officials, lay down their arms and return to the barracks, and ensure that the democratically-elected government is restored to its legitimacy under the Malian constitution without further delay,” the President said in his virtual statement.

He extended greetings to his colleagues at the meeting including the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi BROU; the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki MAHAMAT; and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ibn CHAMBAS.

The President’s entourage at the virtual event were Acting Foreign Minister Henry Fahnbulleh, Defense Minister Daniel Ziankahn, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, Minister of State Without Portfolio Trokon Kpui and Presidential Advisor Emmanuel Shaw.

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