Ecowas warns of G-Bissau civil war risk

2012-05-08 14:25

New York - West Africa's regional group warned on Monday that civil war could erupt in Guinea Bissau if the international community forces the junta to hand back power to the government it deposed last month.

But the ousted government and Portuguese-speaking nations again demanded that the UN Security Council back a multi-national intervention force. The government deposed on 12 April criticised a proposed peace plan by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) as encouraging coup d’états.

Since rebel soldiers carried out Guinea Bissau's fourth coup in 14 years, Ecowas, the European Union and Community of Portugal Language Countires (CPLP) have all since imposed sanctions.

Ecowas is preparing to send a security force to Guinea-Bissau while at the same time pressing the junta to accept a deal under which a transitional government would organise elections in 12 months.

Salamatu Hussaini-Suleiman, Ecowas commissioner for political affairs, acknowledged the efforts had achieved "mixed results", blaming it on the "intransigence of the junta".

She told a Security Council meeting on Guinea-Bissau that "sacrifices and compromises would be needed" to end the crisis.

"The constitutional order that existed prior to the coup d’état cannot be restored immediately, as the PAIGC [ruling party] is demanding, if the spectre of civil war is to be avoided," Hussaini-Suleiman said.

Mamadu Jalo Pires, foreign minister of the ousted government, said "atrocities" were still being committed. He said many government, political party and judiciary leaders remained in hiding in embassies in Bissau.

Stabilisation force

Peaceful rallies had been "violently dispersed" by the junta, crime was increasing and public funds had been "pillaged" by the rogue military officers.

Pires said the Ecowas plan for a transitional government "appears to legitimise the coup d’état" by not endorsing the return to constitutional order.

He said it "seems to encourage coup d’états in Africa, in particular in Guinea Bissau, instead of combating them".

Pires and Georges Chikoti, Angola's foreign minister and current head of the CPLP, which includes Brazil and Portugal, called on the Security Council to impose sanctions on the coup leaders and support a UN-mandated stabilisation force.

Chikoti said it was "urgent" for the UN Security Council action and added that the Portuguese-speaking countries were "ready to make a real contribution to this initiative."

The UN leader Ban Ki-moon said in a report last week that the Security Council should consider sanctions against the coup leaders but that an intervention force should be a last-ditch move.