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ECOWAS LAUDED FOR ITS IMMENSE SUPPORT, SOLIDARITY WITH MALI

By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, November 25, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Mali's Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly has expressed his country's profound gratitude to ECOWAS for its solidarity and contributions that facilitated the resolution of Malian crises and restoration of national unity and constitutional order.

Receiving in audience in his office on Friday 22nd November 2013, Prof. Amos Sawyer, Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Mali's Sunday legislative poll, the Prime Minister mentioned in particular the laudable efforts by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo and his management team in advancing the regional integration agenda.

He noted that ECOWAS support had encouraged Mali to build on the momentum of its recent successful presidential polls by taking on the challenges of organizing the parliamentary elections in the aftermath of the country's political and security crises.

According to the Prime Minister, the presence of the regional observers will not only boost the credibility of the elections, but also reassure the local population and the international community on the prevailing peace and security in Mali.

Prof. Sawyer, who met the Prime Minister as part of his consultations with political stakeholders ahead of Sunday's poll, briefed the Malian leader on the role of the 100-strong regional observation team and their neutrality in process to conclude the country's political transition being facilitated by ECOWAS.

Recalling the key role played by ECOWAS in ending the 14-year bloody civil war in his own country, Liberia, with Mali as part of that process, Prof. Sawyer said this formed the basis for the involvement of ECOWAS and its Member States in helping Mali in its period of need.

“When your neighbour's house is on fire you have to help put it out,” the head of ECOWAS Mission said, adding that it has become “an obligation for ECOWAS to help Malian brothers and sisters” out of crises.

Prof. Sawyer also met with the Malian Minister for Territorial Administration Mousa Sinko Coulibaly, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, CENI, Mr. Mamadou Diamoutani and other officials of the Commission, as well as the Delegate General for elections in Mali, Gen. Siaka Sangare.

The head of ECOWAS observer mission, who was accompanied on the courtesy visits and discussions by Ambassador Aboudou Toure Cheaka, President of ECOWAS Commission's Special Representative to Mali, the Director of Cabinet in the President's Office, Mr. Denis Ouedraogo and the Commission's Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, also met with heads of other observer missions.

Speaking shortly on his arrival in Bamako on Thursday, Prof. Sawyer appealed for peaceful parliamentary polls in Mali to consolidate the progress made towards the restoration of constitutional order and the country's territorial integrity.

He also called on Malians to turn out massively to elect members of the147-seat National Assembly from the more than 1,100 contending candidates.

More than 6.5million registered Malian voters from the country's estimated 16.5million population will cast their ballots in more than 20,000 polling centres on Sunday.

ECOWAS observers are being deployed to the country's eight regions and the municipalities of Bamako, the nation's capital.