President Muhammadu Buhari again on Monday received briefings from former President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the Economic Community of West African States Special Envoy to Mali, on the current situation in the country.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President at the meeting held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the priority in Mali now should be securing the country, which is largely occupied by terrorists.
The statement was titled, ‘President Buhari receives updates on Mali situation from Special Envoy, Goodluck Jonathan.’
Adesina said the meeting between the two leaders came ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS heads of state and leaders, scheduled for Friday.
“About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and 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 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.
The presidential aide said Jonathan updated Buhari on dialogue with the military coup leaders, who are seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections.
Adesina said Jonathan said 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 was only in the hands of ECOWAS heads of state.”
“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 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 maximum of 12 calendar months.
“The Interim Government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order,” Jonathan reportedly told the President.
The former President was further reported to have 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 returning to his former position.