- The West African Economic bloc, ECOWAS, is convening an extra-ordinary summit of Heads of State and Government to take place on Saturday, 17 October 2009 in Abuja to discuss the political and security situations in Guinea and Niger.
According to a statement from the ECOWAS, the summit will specifically consider the recommendations of the International Contact Group on Guinea which ended its day-long meeting in Abuja on Monday this week.
Among others, the contact group called for the creation of a new transitional authority, through dialogue if possible, as well as the withdrawal of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) in order to ensure a short and peaceful transition marked by the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in which those holding key executive positions demonstrate total neutrality throughout the electoral process.
The Heads of State will also consider the report of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council which met in Abuja on 24 August 2009 as well as the report of the findings of a four-member ad-hoc ministerial committee led by Nigeria and composed of Benin, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, which visited Niger shortly after the Council's deliberations in Abuja.
The committee was mandated to work with all political stakeholders in Niger, including the National Council for Dialogue, towards the restoration of dialogue and consensus which characterised the political environment before the current constitutional crisis.
West African leaders have raised concerns with the depleting peace in member states especially following the massacre in Guinea, where more than 150 people were killed in a state crack down of protests leading to the early next year election.
Since the crack down, numerous other human rights concerns as well as initimidation of the opposition have also been raised.
In Niger, the 70 years old leader, Mamadou Tandja, has made more enemies after forcibly staging a referendum for a third term to run as president.
The West African bloc, had threatened Niger with sanctions or suspension after Mr Tandja had dissolved parliament just a day after the Constitutional Court rejected a call for a referendum on 25 May to allow him to seek a third term when his mandate expires on 22 December.
The 70 years old leader was first elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2004.
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