By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA- Economic Community of West Africans States (ECOWAS) parliamentary delegation to Mali has warned that the indifference of member countries to the crisis in Mali could lead to escalation of the problem.
The ECOWAS delegation is in Mali to gather necessary information concerning the plight of the displaced persons and update its information on the situation there.
The delegation also sought particularly to determine whether the rights of the affected people to healthcare, shelter, food and education are being respected.
Also, the ECOWAS parliament sought to engaged heads of communities affected by the crisis.
The visit, which gave the delegation a clear lead to addressing the problem in the country, gave direction on the need for a more critical look at the underlying trigger for the conflict in the first place as a good start to resolving the security challenges.
Malian Parliamentarian, Fatimara Fonba, called on the Community Parliament to also consider the role of some foreign political interests who have been accused of fuelling the crisis in its report.
Fonba, who is also a Member of the ECOWAS Parliament (MP), said as representatives of the people, ”we should do something. We have to act and deal with the issues. Also, the involvement of the Parliament is necessary.
”It is a big mistake to think only Mali is threatened by this situation. We as members of parliament have a responsibility to find out what is behind the issues.
” Governments might not be able to say a number of things but we as MPs are free to represent our people, to criticize and to condemn some initiatives ”, she said.
A member of Parliament, from Nigeria, Foster Ogola, said the only way crisis in Mali can be solved is to know what the cause of the problem is an the grievances of those who caused it.
” This problem would have to be put in two perspectives which is that is it a political, communal/tribal? If it is political party crisis, the opposition becomes relevant. If it is communal or tribal, the community or tribe leaders will be relevant and they will need to be communicated with.
” These relevant people along with the government must speak with us so we can know the truth of the problem and proffer solutions. If these people cannot come to Bamako to talk to us, we can invite them to Senegal or Abuja for talks,” Ogola said.
Senator Mohammed Lafiaji, another MP from Nigeria, suggested that the Community Parliament should extend its peace efforts to other West African countries where necessary because ”if one part of the body is not functioning the whole body does not”.
”I want to suggest we also look into other countries, not only those fighting but those with political problems. We should talk to members of parliament in Togo, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Benin, Nigeria etcetera. It is why we are a conglomerate of countries. We should take the initiative to intervene”.
He urged that plenary should be convinced to recommend that delegates be also sent to other countries to inquire and find solutions.
The Speaker, Moustapha Cisse Lo, closed the session, noting that the parliaments engagements in Mali have been fruitful as it has opened a window for mediation among all parties affected by the crisis.
He called on authorities in the sub-region to collectively address the crisis in Mali as it occupies a key position as a hub in the heart of Africa.
”We hope this would not be the last mission to Mali. We wanted to meet with the opposition party in Mali, Soumaïla Cissé, but we couldn’t because he was not in Mali at the moment we intend to meet him before the Monrovia,” Cisse Lo said.