Friday, September 18, 2015

ECOWAS and Carlos to the rescue in Guinea-Bissau


From Reuters last Saturday:
West Africa's ECOWAS regional bloc on Saturday extended a security force in Guinea-Bissau into 2016 to help protect state institutions amid a political crisis that has left the country without a government.
Senegal President Macky Sall, who heads the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), called the extraordinary summit to discuss a political crisis in coup-prone Guinea-Bissau sparked when President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed the prime minister a month ago.
He later replaced him with a new premier but a Supreme Court ruling this week deemed the new appointment unconstitutional and cabinet was dissolved.
"Given the fragility of the political situation in the country, the conference decided to extend the mandate of ECOMIB for six months from January to June 2016," ECOWAS said in a statement, referring to its 600-strong force. Mediation efforts by the bloc will continue, it added.
The former Portuguese colony has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since 1980. But after a peaceful election in 2014, former prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira helped convince donors to pledge over 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion)in financial assistance to the poor cashew exporter.
More on Guinea-Bissau HERE and HERE. When the Reuters article says "no government," it doesn't mean there was no functioning bureaucracy - the president is there, and the bureaucracy, but the president's recent choice for prime minister stepped down, and the prime minister is head of government in that semi-presidential system. 

Burkina Faso just had a coup the other day. The warning signs were there. Guinea-Bissau is also at risk - it is a low income country with a history of coups, many of which resulted from conflict between the president and the prime minister. Hopefully the ECOWAS intervention will help stabilize the situation.

Yesterday, a new prime minister was appointed: octogenarian Carlos Correia (pictured above), who has been prime minister three times in the past and originally refused yesterday's nomination because of health issues, but he is rising to the occasion. This is likely to help stabilize the situation as well.

To his health!

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