Bissau - Guinea Bissau — The Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of the roadmap of the defence and security sector reform programme of Guinea Bissau (PRSDS), as well as the mission agreement (SOMA) were signed on Wednesday, November 7 2012 in Bissau, thereby formalizing the deployment of the ECOWAS mission to the country (ECOMIB).
Both documents were signed at the Government House by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, who came specifically for the event, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guinea Bissau, Mr. Faustino Fudut Imbali, in the presence of the country’s Prime Minister, Mr. Rui Duarte Barros. Many other dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Mrs. Salamatu Husseini- Sulaiman, Commissioner responsible for Political Affairs, Peace and Security at the ECOWAS Commission, members of the government of Guinea-Bissau and diplomatic corps accredited to Bissau, as well as several other civilian and military dignitaries.
The Ivorian General Soumaila Bagayoko, Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of defence staff, General Antonio Indjai, Chief of defence staff of Guinea-Bissau and Chiefs of defence staff of the three countries providing the bulk of ECOMIB troops : Senegal, Nigeria and Burkina Faso all attended the ceremony. PRSDS is born out of the common resolve of Guinea-Bissau and ECOWAS to frankly cooperate to foster the development of a democratic governance in the defence and security sector of the country and to initiate a strategic dialogue for this purpose. This document, the first initialled and signed this day by officials of ECOWAS and the government of Guinea-Bissau, is designed to help Guinea Bissau to speed up the implementation of priority activities of its defence and security sector programme. The government of Guinea-Bissau approved the roadmap in this regard, set by ECOWAS and the Community of Portuguese speaking countries (CPLP) in August 2012.
The document was subsequently amended at a joint meeting held in November 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria, between ECOWAS Chiefs of defence staff and Heads of security services and representatives of CPLP. Under this Memorandum of Understanding, the reform of the defence and security sector, democratic governance, and the rule of law are the key requirements to provide security and justice to the people, enhance peace and stability and achieve sustainable development in Guinea-Bissau. Regarding SOMA, the text comprising 61 articles proclaims the desire to promote peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau in accordance with the international law, United Nations charter, ECOWAS Revised Treaty, ECOWAS Protocol on the Mechanism for conflict prevention, as well as the ECOWAS supplementary Protocol on democracy and good governance.
It sets the mandate and defines the responsibilities as well as the legal status of ECOMIB, and reviews various areas of the mission in Guinea-Bissau and its evolution, from the conduct of its staff to conflict resolution, through the available facilities ; stores and supplies, field missions. With over 600 soldiers and police officers from Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Senegal, ECOMIB has since its deployment in May 2012 been securing the transition arrangements instead of the Angolan soldiers, whose presence was no longer required. The Angolan contingent, numbering 600 soldiers, were deployed on March 11 2011 following an agreement under which Angola was to assist Guinea-Bissau to reform its defence and security sector. ECOMIB has the mandate of securing the transition process based on a consensual mechanism established in accordance with the constitution of Guinea- Bissau, and also support the free and democratic elections by safeguarding the stakeholders and institutions involved in the electoral process.
It seeks to ensure the safety of other institutions, dignitaries and vulnerable persons in the country, as well as witnesses and investigating institutions and legal actions, and to establish and protect a humanitarian corridor with a view to providing humanitarian assistance wherever the need arises. The mission also secures the people in general and creates a conducive environment with a view to guaranteeing the liberty and safety of the institutions, as well as the free movement of persons and goods to allow the return of normal economic activities. Guinea-Bissau, a small West African country affected by rampart drug trafficking, with military Chiefs implicated, has a history characterized by military coups. Since its independence obtained from Portugal in 1974, no President has completed his term of office On April 12 2012, the Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Junior was overthrown by a military coups carried out between the two rounds of presidential elections, when he was leading upon conclusion of the first round. Led by the Chief of defence staff, General Antonio Indjai, the perpetrators of the coup, subsequently handed over power to politicians under an agreement reached with ECOWAS on the setting up of transitional authorities, led since by Mr. Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo.