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Monday, September 21, 2020

Bissau fears war if Ecowas withdraws

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By Mustapha Darboe,
just back from Bissau

People in Guinea Bissau are expressing fear over the possibilities of a return to war if the regional body Ecowas troops deployed in the country are withdrawn over a 2-year political deadlock.
The heads of state of the West African regional economic bloc will be meeting on Guinea Bissau at a summit in Nigeria from December 12 -16 to discuss whether to sanction the country’s political leaders or even withdraw the regional troops who are securing the country.

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Ahead of that meeting, a delegation led by the president of ECOWAS commission, Marcel De Souza, visited Bissau last week where he expressed unhappiness over the failure of the political leaders to implement an agreement brokered by President Alpha Conde three months ago.

A veteran Guinean journalist working for an independent radio Bombolong, Alberto Omar Dabo, said Guinea’s crisis needs a solution now or it risks descending into a civil war.
“I am very concern on what might happen if ECOWAS withdraw its troops. We are on the brink of a civil war and that is why the international community should do something about our situation,” Dabo told The Standard.

“If they don’t keep the ECOWAS standby force here, war will break out. They have to be here at all costs… There is not yet a programme for peace. This is something we have to handle with care.”
Darboe urged presidents Adama Barrow and Macky Sall to form a team and prevail on the Bissau political leaders to resolve the crisis before the regional leaders take a decision that could see the country destabilized.

Background:
In 2015, President Vaz fell out with his main political rival Domingos Simoes Pereira, the prime minister.
Shortly before, Pereira had lost the absolute majority in the parliament after being denied 15 votes by some members of his own PAIGC party who are referred to as “the 15 rebels”.

Shortly after, Cipriano Kassama, a powerful member of PAIGC and a strong supporter of Pereira cut ties with “the 15 rebels” and refused any cooperation with the president and the government.
Since then, no legislative or budget proposal has been adopted and nothing appears to be working at the assembly though the president and some members report to work daily.

Public schools have been closed until two days ago and hospitals are struggling for funds.
Bissau has witnessed 9 coups or attempted coups since 1980 and currently it has 600 Ecowas regional forces who are securing the small nation.
The military has a history of interference in politics, which is why the regional body has asked soldiers to stay at the barracks.

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