The chairman of the Economic Community
of West African States (ECOWAS), President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua of Nigeria has
expressed sadness over the assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and
his chief of staff General Batista Tagme Na Waie. In a statement, the ECOWAS chairman
emphasized the importance of constitutional succession to the presidency.
President Yar'Adua also called on Guinea
Bissau's armed forces and other security agencies to desist from any further
actions likely to plunge the country into further lawlessness and political
ECOWAS Executive Secretary Mohamed Ibn Chambas told VOA the sub-regional body is sending a delegation to
chairman of ECOWAS, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua announced that he was
dispatching a delegation comprising the foreign ministers of Nigeria, Burkina
Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, and Senegal accompanied by the President of
ECOWAS Commission on Tuesday, March third to go to Guinea-Bissau to engage all
Guinean stakeholders in an effort to restore confidence among the political
actors, civil society and security services and return the country to
constitutional normalcy," he said.
military officers in Guinea-Bissau said Monday night that the killing of
President Vieira was not a part of a coup attempt.
said it was fair to characterize developments in Guinea-Bissau as an
assassination. He said ECOWAS, the African Union and the international
community would not accept any attempt by the Guinea-Bissau military to seize
has not been any move by the military to take over power. The military
spokesperson who read the communiqué has indicated indeed that it is not an
attempted coup d'état, and that in a sense is welcomed news in an otherwise
very charged and an unfortunate. Of course a coup d'état will not be accepted.
The chairman of ECOWAS has strongly condemned the assassinations, but what is
also absolutely clear is that the entire region and indeed all of Africa will
strongly resist any attempt by the military to take over power at this time,"
said the ECOWAS delegation was going to Guinea-Bissau to send a strong message
to the military that any seizure of power would be unacceptable, and that
ECOWAS would like to see constitutional normalcy restored as soon as possible.
denied ECOWAS did not follow up on its threats to the military junta in Guinea
when they seized power following the death of President Lansana Conte.
strong warning and ECOWAS position in Guinea has been isolation not only by
ECOWAS but by Africa, and the rest of the world has taken cue from the African
Union and ECOWAS position and also strongly condemned the regime. So I think
that the military in Guinea-Bissau would be well-advised not to go that path
because it would lead them to isolation, it would lead them to strong
condemnation, and it would lead them to where they would be held accountable
for any lost of life that would ensue in Guinea-Bissau," Chambas said.
said Monday's assassinations of President Vieira and his chief of staff were
not surprising to ECOWAS.
person who is remotely familiar with the developments in Guinea-Bissau over the
last few years could not have been surprised by what happened, and certainly we
were not. We do have a representation office in Guinea-Bissau; we are working
and have been working very closely with all the stakeholders, political
parties, civil society, especially the security services to try and bring the
country to stability, peace and security with difficulties," he said.
said one of the two main threats that have confronted Guinea-Bissau has been
the lack of serious security sector reform. He said Monday's assassinations
have moved the issue to the forefront of reform in Guinea-Bissau.
refuted any notion that developments in Guinea and now Guinea-Bissau could be
an indication that West Africa could be moving away from the path to democracy.
and Guinea-Bissau are the exceptions. They are two countries in a region of 15
countries. But they are not surprised cases. Guinea even before the death of
President Conte was never one of those countries that were on the path of
reform. Guinea-Bissau has also been tottering on instability for some time now.
Perhaps the challenges that they face now would rally all of us to want to put
the necessary pressure on them but also give constructive the support that they
would require to join the rank of other ECOWAS countries on the path of
building democracy, on the path of improving governance, on the path of really
ensuring real peace and stability," Chambas said.