1 May 2017

West Africa: Guinea Bissau President Seeks Ecowas Intervention in Political Crisis

Monrovia — Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz is now seeking ECOWAS heads of states' intervention in growing anti-government sentiment in his country as he takes a one-day visit to Liberia Monday, May 1, 2017.

He was received by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and senior government officials at the James Spriggs Payne Field at 11: AM.

Following 18-month-long of political tension in Guinea Bissau, Vaz visitation with the head of ECOWAS, Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was intended to find an amicable means to resolve the stalemate in his country.

There is already an ongoing meditative effort in Guinea Bissau led by President Sirleaf along with two other ECOWAS heads of states but the need for direct involvement of ECOWAS heads of states is reportedly the hope of the President Vaz.

"Currently, there is an ECOWAS Military Force in Guinea Bissau as a result of said crisis but President Vaz has made an appeal for more direct involvement of ECOWAS heads of state in forming a resolution to handle the crisis," Liberia's Information Minister Eugene Nagbe told news men Monday.

Vaz's decision in August 2015 to sack Pereira, a popular politician who enjoyed support from Western donors, triggered a period of instability and the appointment of several other prime ministers in quick succession.

None of them have reportedly managed to resolve the political deadlock.

International media have reported that hundreds of protesters marched in Guinea Bissau over the weekend to demand the departure of President Jose Mario Vaz.

The former Portuguese colony in West Africa has not convened parliament for more than a year and regional talks have failed to resolve deep rivalries within the political elite, raising fears that drugs traffickers could exploit the power vacuum.

Speaking at the Spriggs Field, Minister Nagbe said President Vaz in a meeting with President Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia raised serious concern over intervention made by ECOWAS, calling on the West African regional body to do more in moving the peace process which he said is yet to be totally experienced.

"The meeting mainly centered on how ECOWAS could increase its role in the solution to the problem in Guinea Bissau," Nagbe asserted.

President Vaz and member of the opposition block in his country previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which they promised to commit themselves to dialogue in holding democratically free and fair elections but said process is accordingly yet, to be enforced.

But Minister Nagbe noted that Vaz is requesting ECOWAS to increase consultation with the opposition parties so that the peace process which had been stalled can move on speedily.

He said the Guinea Bissau President was brief by President Sirleaf on ECOWAS leader's general effort revealing to him that there is a plan summit in June while at the same time another meeting has being scheduled for at the end of May for ECOWAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

These meetings he said would highlight the unfolding situation in Guinea Bissau and a possible means to end the situation.

Minister Nagbe registered that in spite of the ongoing peace mediation, there still exist a serious political crisis in Guinea which has impeded the country's progress and needs the total involvement of regional heads of the West African body in committing the parties to the Memorandum of Understanding they have agreed upon.

West Africa

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