President Goodluck Jonathan
From Chineme Okafor in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan has extended to the new interim government of the Republic of Mali, Nigeria’s felicitation at the improvement of political situation in the country following the successful restoration of its constitution and transfer of political power to its former parliamentary speaker, Mr. Dioncounda Traore.
Traore was on Thursday sworn in by the President of Mali’s Supreme Court, Nouhoum Tapily at a brief in Bamako, as part of the peace deal between leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Mali’s military junta which had seized power in a military coup in March.
In a press statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on developments in Mali yesterday in Abuja, Jonathan noted that the concerted efforts of ECOWAS leaders had culminated in the concession of political power by the junta led by Capt. Amadou Sanago.
Jonathan, who stated that the situation was gratifying, expressed Nigeria’s strong support for the territorial integrity of Mali as well as its preparedness to assist the new interim government in restoring complete democratic and constitutional order in Mali.
Traore, who has threatened a ‘total war’ against separatist rebels in the country’s northern region, now has 40 days to organise elections, although it remains to be seen if this deadline will be met considering situation in the north. The leader had also disclosed on his inauguration that the unity of the country was not for negotiation.
Since the coup, Tuareg and Islamist militants have taken control of much of the northern desert region. The UN says there are continuing reports of civilians being killed, robbed, raped and forced to flee northern rebel-held areas. Nigeria successfully brokered a peace plan during a marathon meeting between the delegation of the Malian military junta and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru which took place on April 3, 2012 in Abuja.
Ashiru had in the meeting made it clear to the junta that Nigeria was uncomfortable with any form of military take-over of power in the continent and had no intention of granting recognition to the junta in Bamako.