The Conference of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) reiterated, the November 8 in Niamey, its support for the government of Aristides Gomes and brandished the threat of sanctions, during an extraordinary summit dedicated to the Bissau-Guinean crisis, whose regional organization is the mediator. On the same day, newly appointed Prime Minister Faustino Imbali announced his resignation.
ECOWAS has again denounced the "illegality" of the decision of the president Guinea-Bissau José Mário Vaz to remove the government of Aristides Gomes, instructed by the West African organization to organize the presidential election scheduled for November 24. "Heads of State and Government have expressed their deep concern at this new turn of events, putting the country at risk of political and institutional, as well as a potential civil war," said the statement released Friday.
Possible sanctions have also been announced. The Conference of Heads of State "asked the chairman of the commission to propose a list of people who have committed acts to defeat the electoral process and the political normalization so that they are sanctioned immediately," says the ECOWAS . Faced with the climate of tension, the regional organization has also decided to strengthen the mandate and staff of Ecomib, its strength deployed in Guinea-Bissau since 2012.
"Sending to Bissau a mission of heads of state"
"The Conference decides to send to Bissau a mission of Heads of State and Government headed by the President of the Conference [Nigerian Mahamadou Issoufou] and composed of the Heads of State of Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria to convey to President Vaz the decisions of the Conference. This mission will be preceded by a mission of the Chiefs of Staff of ECOWAS, "the statement added.
Several West African presidents, hosted by Nigerian Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum, made the trip to Niamey for the summit chaired by Mahamadou Issoufou: Patrice Talon, Macky Sall, Julius Maada Bio, Nana Akufo-Addo, Faure Gnassingbe, George Weah, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Alassane Ouattara. Representatives from Guinea, Mali and Nigeria were also present, as was the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou.
José Mário Vaz (Jomav), at the center of attention, was however the great absent from this meeting. Suzi Barbosa, the Bissau-Guinean Minister of Foreign Affairs of the government of Aristides Gomes (sacked by Jomav on October 28), had on his side made the trip to Niamey.
"Guinea-Bissau, a Member State of our Community, is currently experiencing a serious political and institutional crisis, with disastrous consequences for this country and for our subregion," said Mahamadou Issoufou, President-in-Office of the organization, at the opening of the summit.
Resignation of Faustino Imbali
The meeting was convened because of the determination displayed by José Mário Vaz despite the warnings of the international community. This one definitely lost patience the 28 October, when the president sacked the government of Aristides Gomes, announcing in the wake of the appointment of Faustino Imbali as Prime Minister. Under pressure from ECOWAS, the latter announced its resignation on Friday.
Le presidential decree had been deemed "illegal" by ECOWASwho had, in the wake, threatened to take further sanctions. The organization recalled the consensus reached at the Abuja summit, the 29 last June. If it allows President Vaz, whose mandate ended the same month, to remain in power, the management of the country was then entrusted to the government Gomes, responsible for organizing the presidential November 24. Supported by the United Nations, the African Union and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), the regional organization again backed Prime Minister Gomes and demanded that the electoral calendar be respected.
Ultimatum of the ECOWAS
But José Mário Vaz, candidate (independent) to his own estate, had persisted and appointed a new government. His supporters, like other presidential candidates, have on their side denounced interference by the international community.
Vaz's calls to the military to force the installation of Faustino Imbali into the Government Palace, still occupied by the Gomes administration, had sharpened the irritation of ECOWAS. On November 6, the institution issued an ultimatum of 48 hours before holding the summit this Friday. "The Ministerial Committee is once again issuing a solemn appeal to all those who have been improperly trained in the illegal government of Faustino Imbali to resign," said Blaise Diplo, the ECOWAS representative in Bissau.
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