By Bruce Asemota
The Ecowas Court has dismissed a suit filed by the former prime minister of Guinea, Aristides Gomes, against the government of The Gambia and three others.
Mr Gomes wanted the regional court to suspend The Gambia, Senegal, Niger and Nigeria from Ecowas in line with Article 45 of the community’s protocol.
He also asked for the suspension of the four governments from all discussions and decision-making issues concerning Guinea Bissau for a period of not less than five years.
Following two rounds of elections in 2019 and 2020, Umaro Embaló was declared president and he was inaugurated on 27 February 2020. However, the former ruling party, PAIGC, rejected the results, claiming there had been electoral fraud, and submitted a petition to the Supreme Court. Holding a majority in the National People’s Assembly, the party swore in Speaker Cipriano Cassamá as a rival president. Cassamá resigned after a day, saying he had received death threats.
On 28 February 2020, Embaló replaced Mr Gomes with Nuno Gomes Nabiam as prime minister but Gomes refused to resign. Embaló, a former army general, deployed soldiers at all government offices.
Soon afterwards President Embaló visited The Gambia, Senegal, Niger and Nigeria where he was received and accorded warm welcome and recognised as the president of Guinea Bissau.
Aristides who had challenged the validity of the election of President Embaló was angered by the actions of the four countries in welcoming and recognising Embaló as president
Consequently, on 7 July 2020, he filed a suit at the Ecowas Court seeking the suspension of the four countries from Ecowas.
In a judgement delivered on 16 May 2023 at the community court in Abuja, Nigeria, President Justice Edward Amoako Asante upheld the submission of plea in law and facts in support of the preliminary objection filed by The Gambia.
Mr Gomes had claimed to have brought the suit against the countries in his capacity as incumbent prime minister and head of government of Guinea Bissau and on behalf of the government of Guinea Bissau.
But the court upheld The Gambia’s preliminary objection that Aristides is not the prime minister of Guinea Bissau having been replaced by President Embaló on 28 February 2020 and as such he lacked locus standi (jurisdiction) to initiate the suit and thus dismissed it.
The court cited a press release issued by Ecowas on 22 April 2020 that the community recognised President Umaro Embaló as the duly elected president of Guinea Bissau.