Mozambique: Guebuza Receives Deposed Guinea-Bissau President

Photo: L'observateur Paalga
Guinée-Bissau army.

Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Tuesday granted an audience to the legitimate head of state of Guinea-Bissau, Raimundo Pereira, who was deposed in April's military coup.

Pereira will represent Guinea-Bissau at the heads of state summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), due to be held in Maputo on Friday.

Pereira was speaker of the Guinean parliament, and he became interim President of Guinea-Bissau, when President Malam Bacai Sanha left the country for medical treatment abroad. After Sanha's death, Pereira continued in the post while presidential elections were organised.

The military deposed him and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior in April, before the second round of the presidential election could be held. It was thought likely that Gomes, leader of the ruling PAIGC, would win the election.

At the end of his meeting with Guebuza, Pereira told reporters that he is in Maputo for the CPLP summit, in his capacity as "the legitimate authority in Guinea-Bissau", and was using the occasion for political contacts.

"It was in this context that I was received by President Guebuza, and we talked about the situation in Bissau, and the prospects for a solution".

He said that the situation in Guinea-Bissau is deteriorating with every passing day, and sliding into a stage where no evident solution can be seen. He deplored the attitude taken by the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) which sent troops to "invade" the Guinean parliament earlier this month.

The parliament was forced to suspend its activities because soldiers of the ECOWAS peace keeping force had been placed on the door. ECOWAS is seen as protecting the "transitional government" set up by the military, and is thus out of step with the rest of the international community which has offered no recognition to bodies emerging from the coup.

Pereira warned that, if no lasting solution is found, "Guinea-Bissau will be divided and increasingly sunk in crisis".

The solution, he believed, could only lie in holding free and democratic elections. He hoped that the political contacts he was making would eventually guarantee security for the Guinean population, leading to the conditions that would allow elections to be held.

Currently Pereira and Gomes are living in exile in Portugal.

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