Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday demanded "the return of constitutional order and the rule of law in Guinea-Bissau".
He was speaking in Maputo at the opening of a heads of state summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP). The main theme of the summit is "The CPLP and the Challenges of Food and Nutritional Security" - however, it has been overshadowed by the military coup in April that overthrew the legitimate government of Guinea-Bissau.
The CPLP continues to recognise Raimundo Pereira, the man toppled by the Guinean military, as the legitimate President, and it is he who is representing Guinea-Bissau at the Maputo summit.
Guinea-Bissau is plagued with an oversized army that is forever meddling in politics. Guebuza stressed that reforming the Guinean defence and security sector "is absolutely necessary for stability".
Angola, which held the rotating presidency of the CPLP for the past two years, sent a military mission known as MISSANG in March 2011, in an attempt to reform and modernize the Guinean military, but the army had no intention of being reformed.
Guinean President Malam Bacai Sanha died on 9 January, and this precipitated presidential elections. When it became clear that the Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Junior, a man known to be in favour of serious military reform, was hot favourite to win the second round of the election, the army staged its, coup, on 12 April. Both Gomes, and interim president Pereira, are now living in exile in Portugal.
Angolan Deputy President, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos told the Maputo summit that efforts had been made to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), following approval of a Road Map for reforming the Guinean armed forces.
"Regrettably, when it seemed that we were on the brink of an agreement, the coup d'etat took place, which made the agreement impossible", he said. Later the CPLP Executive Secretariat contacted African Union officials about the Memorandum of Understanding, "but an unfavourable conjuncture did not allow significant advances".
Prior to the coup, Angola, as CPLP president, "made efforts to promote dialogue between the Guinea-Bissau authorities and the country's international partners, in order to contribute to the stabilization of the county, and the normal functioning of state institutions".
But after the military took over, dos Santos said, "the focus of the CPLP centred on denouncing the coup, on the international isolation of the coup makers, and in seeking broader involvement of the international community, through the UN Security Council, in regulating and normalising the situation in Guinea-Bissau".
The position taken by the CPLP, in the wake of the coup, was "to demand the immediate restoration of constitutional order and the conclusion of the elections". The only Guinean authorities recognised by the CPLP were "those that result from the popular vote, from institutional legality and from the imperatives of the Constitution".
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is absent from the summit - his Deputy President apologised, explaining that the preparations for Angola's forthcoming general elections had kept him in Luanda. Thus the task of presenting the record of CPLP activity in the two years of the Angolan presidency fell to Piedade dos Santos.
He told the summit that, despite a handsome new headquarters in Lisbon, provided by the Portuguese government, "over the past two years it was not possible to adopt a budget corresponding to the CPLP's real growth, and to the growing needs of our organisation, even for the most simple running costs".
Angola had stepped in to plus some of the financial gap with "extraordinary contributions", notably for the Guinea-Bissau Special Support Fund, and for covering various CPLP activities in Lisbon.
Piedade dos Santos added that Angola also undertook "extraordinary expenditure" to support CPLP election observation missions in Guinea-Bissau, East Timor and Sao Tome and Principe "because we think it is fundamental to accompany the consolidation of democracy within the CPLP".
Part of the reason the CPLP was set up was to promote greater use and knowledge of the Portuguese language, but Piedade dos Santos recognised there were great difficulties in persuading the United Nations to adopt Portuguese as one of its official languages.
"There is a long and complex path to travel", he admitted, "which involves the political will of the CPLP member states in financing projects that will lead to an effective presence of Portuguese as a language of documentation and/or a working language".