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ECOWAS Rejects Guinea-Bissau Military Junta Two-Year Proposal

April 19, 2012

Peter Clottey

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned as illegal a proposal by Guinea-Bissau’s military junta to organize new elections after two years.

ECOWAS communications director Sonny Ugoh said the sub-regional bloc demands an immediate return to constitutional rule, saying the junta’s announcement is unacceptable.

“We are completely taken aback by this development, because it is completely at variance with the understanding that the delegation of ECOWAS had with members of the junta, which gave us hope that we are on track for the immediate restoration of democracy in that country,” said Ugoh.

“It suggests to us that they are probably not reliable to engage with, in terms of discussions on the way forward for Guinea Bissau,” he added.

Ugoh said in a written press statement that the junta had promised, following a meeting with a high-level ECOWAS delegation in Bissau on 16 April 2012, to step aside to pave the way for the immediate return to constitutional normality.

But in a swift turnaround, the coup leaders announced Thursday they had signed an accord with 24 political parties to form a Transitional National Council, to govern the West African nation for a two-year period.

But the former ruling party said it will not recognize the deal. The PAIGC party spokesman, Fernando Mendonca, told VOA that talks between coup leaders and some political parties on returning power to civilians are simply a “farce.”

Ugoh said it was unfortunate the political parties backed the junta’s proposal.

“This, for us, is strange for political parties that are run on the ethos of democracy to participate in this kind of arrangement that is completely alien to the constitution of the country… that is alien to regional instruments of democracy and good governance,” said Ugoh.

“It looks like a very disingenuous way for them to ride into power, instead of relying on the votes of the people,” he added.

The ECOWAS commission released a statement Thursday reiterating its rejection of what it described as the usurpation of power by the junta. The sub-regional bloc also said it will not recognize any of the junta’s transitional arrangements with other political parties.

Both the African Union and ECOWAS suspended Guinea Bissau’s membership following the coup d’état.

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