EU ends G Bissau mission

2010-08-02 22:30

Brussels - The EU said on Monday it was ending a military reform mission to Guinea Bissau in protest at the appointment of a mutineer as the west African country's new army chief.

Launched in June 2008, "the EU's security sector reform mission in Guinea Bissau, having completed its mandate, will close down on 30 September 2010," the EU said in a statement.

"Political instability and the lack of respect for the rule of law in the country make it impossible for the EU to deploy a follow-up mission, as originally foreseen, without compromising its own principles," it said.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton expressed "dismay" last month at the appointment of General Antonio Indjai, who she said was responsible for a mutiny that overthrew the former army chief in April.

"Following the mutiny of April 2010, the EU repeatedly expressed its concern regarding the violation of constitutional order, illegal detention of civilian and military leaders and impunity of perpetrators," the EU statement said.

Indjai's nomination "constitutes another setback to the process of democratic consolidation and confirms that the conditions for deployment of the new mission are not met," it charged.

The troubled west African nation has been plagued by coups since independence from Portugal in 1974 and instability has attracted South American drug cartels who now use the country as a transit point to Europe.

In March 2009 president Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by troops apparently in revenge for the assassination hours earlier of the armed forces chief.

Ashton called following the April mutiny for a full review of the EU's engagement in Guinea-Bissau, which falls under a June 2000 treaty between the EU and 79 developing countries.

The Cotonou Agreement conditions EU economic and development aid on the respect of certain criteria including political rights.

The EU has allocated Guinea Bissau a total aid package worth €102.8m for the period 2008-2013.