President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, has paid tribute to President Jammeh, Alpha Conde of Guinea and President Buhari of Nigeria for their mediating role in the Guinea-Bissau crisis.
It was reported on media sometimes last month that the Gambian leader met some diplomat from Guinea to mediate the current political crisis that has gripped the West African state.
Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, the News 24 reported, 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.
Ouedraogo also 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.”
Crisis threatens economic gains
The News 24 reported that the ECOWAS states have also warned that chronic instability in Guinea-Bissau was threatening gains made on its economy as they gathered in Senegal for talks on regional security.
However, reports said 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 which AFP said it has seen.
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.
Meanwhile reports also said the leaders of the regional groupings have reaffirmed their commitments to uphold free, transparent and credible elections ahead of elections in three of their member states this year.
To this end, the ECOWAS Authority has directed the ECOWAS Commission to continue its support to Burkina Faso, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire and to take all necessary actions, aimed at ensuring the success of the upcoming elections in the three countries.
These commitments, The Dawn online site reported, were contained in a Communiqué issued at the end of a one-day Extraordinary Summit, which was called at the request of ECOWAS Chairman, Senegalese President, Macky Sall.
The Summit was convened to examine the pre-election situation in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea and also the fast evolving political and security situation in Guinea Bissau.
On the situation in Guinea Bissau, President of the ECOWAS Commission, H. E. Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, the ECOWAS Authority emphasized the importance of adhering to the principles of the rule of law, which are paramount to achieving sustainable peace stability and development.
The Authority therefore mandated Presidents Macky Sall, Chair of the Authority and Alpha Condé, ECOWAS Mediator for Guinea Bissau, assisted by former Nigerian President Olusugun Obasanjo, Special Envoy of President Mahammadu Buhari, Chair of the Regional Contact Group on Guinea Bissau to facilitate dialogue with all stakeholders with a view to finding a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis.
The communiqué also revealed that ECOWAS has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping force, Economic Community Mission in Bissau (ECOMIB), for an additional six months, from January to June 2016.
It called on the international community to provide a substantial financial support for the Mission.