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Guinea-Bissau: Regional leaders consider sanctions

Economic Community of West African States negotiators said Guinea-Bissau President Vaz failed to implement Conakry Accord

Guinea-Bissau: Regional leaders consider sanctions

By Mustapha K Darboe

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said Sunday they are considering sanctions against Guinea-Bissau's President for failure to implement the agreement to end the two-year political crisis.

ECOWAS negotiators led by president of the Commission, Marcel De Souza, said that President Jose Mario Vaz and his ruling powerful PAIGC have failed to implement anything that came out of talks brokered by President Alpha Conde of Guinea Conarkry in June this year.

Known in Bissau as the Conakry Accord, president Vaz has been asked, among other things, to appoint a concession candidate acceptable to him and his party as prime minister but Vaz appointed Umaro Cissoko Embalo who is outside of African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde.

ECOWAS is expected to hold a meeting and take appropriate action in Nigeria from December 12 to 16, Souza said.

The heads of states of ECOWAS reserve the right to apply sanctions, collective and individual, and also withdraw the regional forces who are currently keeping the peace in the country, Souza said.

Fallout between the Vaz and his PAIGC party who claimed he is running an “illegal government” has made it impossible for him to even present a budget before lawmakers since mid 2015.

That year, Vaz fell out with his main political rival Domingos Simoes Pereira, then the prime minister.

Shortly before, Pereira 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 proposals have been adopted and nothing appears to be working at the National Assembly though the president and some members report to work daily.

Public schools are closed and hospitals are struggling for funds.

“We have an unconstitutional government, a government without programmes and a government without a budget,” Cipriano Kassama, the president of the National Assembly, told Anadolu Agency on Friday at his office.

- Instability

Bissau has witnessed nine coups or attempted coups since 1980 and currently it has 600 regional forces securing the small nation.

The military has a history of interference in politics which is why the regional body has asked soldiers to stay in the barracks.

A veteran Guinean journalist working for the independent radio station Bonbolon, Alberto Omar Dabo, said Guinea’s crisis needs a solution now or it risks descending into a civil war.

"We are on the brink of a civil war and that is why the international community should do something about our situation," Dabo said.

“If they don’t keep the ECOWAS standby force here, war will break out. They have to be here at all cost… There is not yet a programme for peace. This is something we have to handle with care.”

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