Crisis-hit Guinea-Bissau's economy under threat - Ecowas

2015-09-13 14:29

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Dakar - West African nations warned on Saturday that chronic instability in Guinea-Bissau was threatening gains made on its economy as they gathered in Senegal for talks on regional security.

The "extraordinary summit" of the regional Ecowas bloc, attended by eight presidents, was dominated by the simmering political crisis in Bissau.

The coup-plagued country has been in political turmoil since President Jose Mario Vaz fired prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira on August 12 over a series of disputes including the naming of a new army chief.

The impoverished nation's new premier Baciro Dja was forced to resign just three weeks into the job on Wednesday when the country's Supreme Court declared that his appointment had been unconstitutional.

Pereira's sacking has put the head of state at loggerheads with his ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which denounced the move as a "constitutional coup".

Economic progress made since presidential elections in July last year was now "seriously threatened", said Ecowas Commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, according to a text of his speech seen by AFP.

Vaz attended the summit, along with Senegal's President Macky Sall, the chairman of Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States which groups 15 countries.

Alpha Conde of Guinea, Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso and Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali also attended, alongside Togolese leader Faure Gnassingbe, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and Benin's Thomas Yayi Boni.

Fight against terrorism

Ouedraogo paid tribute to Conde for his mediating role in the Guinea-Bissau crisis, as well as the Gambia's Yahya Jammeh and Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari, who had both sent representatives.

He told the summit he was confident their efforts would help bring about a lasting solution.

"I base this optimism on your collective wisdom that has always helped us out of difficult situations, as well as on the willingness to go the extra mile of the current political actors in Guinea-Bissau," Ouedraogo said.

The summit also touched on the security threat posed by Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, as well as ongoing unrest in northern Mali.

Ouedraogo called for "transparent, credible" forthcoming elections in Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso and "results accepted by all".

He said the bloc could be "reasonably confident" the polls in each country would strengthen democracy and good governance in the region.

Sall, who had called the summit, urged the gathered delegates to uphold democracy, peace and good governance, as west Africa faced a period of "major challenges".

"Foremost among these challenges is the fight against terrorism. I would like to renew here our solidarity with the sister republic of Nigeria and all brotherly countries involved in the battle with Boko Haram.

"I also reiterated our strong support for Ibrahima Boubacar Keita, our brother, in his tireless efforts for national reconciliation and respect for the unity and territorial integrity of Mali."

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