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Militants Seek Role for Carter at N'delta Summi

7 May 2008
Posted to the web 7 May 2008

Ahamefula Ogbu
Port Harcourt

Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday said that the end of militancy was in sight with the acceptance of former American President, Mr. Jimmy Carter, to mediate in the crisis if invited by the federal government and other stakeholders.

MEND said the peace process being mid-wifed by the federal government would come to naught.

The organization has claimed responsibility for increased attacks on oil pipelines in the region because of its belief that the people were not benefiting from the riches that accrue from crude oil.

The Federal Government had planned a peace summit which the group described as a mere "jamboree" which would lead to eventual total destruction of pipelines in the region.

However, the organization also expressed its readiness "to call off all hostilities and hold a temporary ceasefire in honor of President Carter, should the Nigerian government accept the former President's initiative."

MEND also threatened that "if as expected, the government fails to seize this new opportunity for peace, our actions will continue to speak volumes beyond the Nigerian shores".

MEND said that Carter represents transparency, insisting that they will abide by the decisions reached in any parley chaired by the former American President.

The caveat, MEND said in a statement sent to THISDAY email, was that the Federal Government would allow Carter to meet with their leader, Mr. Henry Okah, who is currently being tried in Jos, Plateau State.

They also demanded the final outcome of the meeting with Carter should be fully implemented.

The militants claimed that they have received a confirmation of the willingness of Mr. Carter to mediate in the crisis through the Vice President of the Carter Foundation, Mr. John Stremlau, and pointed out that such a move would usher in lasting peace in the region.

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has received today, May 6, 2008 a confirmation from The Carter Center through its Vice President, Mr. John Stremlau that the former President of the United States of America, Jimmy Carter has graciously accepted to mediate in the Niger Delta crisis on the condition that the Nigerian government and any other relevant stake holder invites him.

"We urge the Nigerian government to accept this olive branch offered by President Carter in place of the jamboree called the Niger Delta Summit scheduled for Abuja. We do not believe the Abuja summit will achieve any meaningful goal and have no interest in attending it.

"President Carter represents transparency, impartiality, humility and integrity; four key ingredients critical in the mediator recipe towards ensuring a genuine and enduring peace process for the region.

"The Federal government's acceptance of President Carter to mediate and also visit Henry Okah will demonstrate a readiness on its part, to embrace genuine peace and reconciliation.

"For a government that talked so much about a peaceful resolution to the Niger Delta problem.

"President Carter's new initiative should be seen as a golden opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the over 50 years of injustice perpetrated against the peace loving people of the Niger Delta.

"Now the ball is in the court of the government," MEND said in the statement.

The militant group had earlier said there was a possibility of their cessation of hostilities following the appeal Senator Barack Obama made asking them to stop attacks on pipelines.