ECOWAS , AU Denounce Guinea Bissau Coup

West Africa’s sub-regional organization, ECOWAS has once again reiterated its position against  unconstitutional change of government .A statement by the organization  said it  has learnt with great concern about the on-going attempt by the military to overthrow the Government  of Guinea Bissau.

Categorically ,the statement issued by H.E. Désiré Kadré Ouedraogo, President of the ECOWAS Commission in Abidjan said  “the Commission firmly denounces this latest incursion by the military into politics and unreservedly condemns the irresponsible act, which has once more demonstrated their penchant to maintain  Guinea Bissau as a failed state.

In what appears like  direct message to the  coupists the sub regional body warned that“ ECOWAS wishes to put the perpetrators of this reprehensible coup  attempt of their responsibility for the safety and security of political  leaders, the population, institutions, and property in the country. ECOWAS remains seized with the situation in Guinea Bissau and, in  the coming days, shall take appropriate and decisive measures with  regard to the matter.”

The West African body added that it  is particularly disappointed with the timing of the coup  attempt, coming just days after a joint ECOWAS-AU -UN mission met  with the military hierarchy to warn against any temptation to disrupt  the n-going electoral process. It also comes at the moment when  ECOWAS is engaged with Guinea Bissau in the efforts to pursue  wide-ranging reforms for economic development and national  reconstruction .

President of the Commission said, “ ECOWAS demands the immediate  restoration of constitutional order to allow for the completion of the  on-going electoral process. This flagrant defiance of the Community’s principle of Zero Tolerance  for power obtained by unconstitutional means, as enshrined in the  Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance cannot  go unpunished as, by their action, the military have willfully and  knowingly outlawed Guinea Bissau from the ECOWAS Community.”

Reports by AFP said  Guinea-Bissau’s president and prime minister were in army custody on Friday after troops staged an apparent coup just two weeks ahead of a presidential run-off vote in the chronically unstable west African country.

A bodyguard of interim president Raimundo Pereira said soldiers arrested him at his home during the putsch on Thursday and took him to an “unknown destination.”

Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior — tipped to win the ballot set for April 29 — was also arrested and whisked away in a pickup truck, his wife Salome told AFP earlier.

The army said however that it has “no ambition for power” in the troubled country of 1.6 million people, following an earlier statement that it acted in response to an alleged “secret deal” between Guinea-Bissau and Angola, which has 200 troops in the country ostensibly to help reform the military.

“The military command has no ambition for power,” the army said in a statement, alleging that the government was bent on “eliminating the army with a foreign military force.”

The Angolan troop presence has been a bone of contention between the Guinea-Bissau government and army amid suspicions that it was being secretly built up.

Late Thursday, soldiers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles seized the ruling party headquarters and the state radio station as gunfire resounded and ambulance sirens wailed in the capital Bissau, which was plunged into darkness as electricity was cut off.

A military source reportedly  said those arrested were taken to army headquarters at Amura, near the coast of the impoverished country that has seen half a dozen coups or attempted coups since 1980 and has become a hub for drug-running.

The US embassy in neighbouring Senegal called for the return of civilian rule, saying: “It is regrettable that elements of the Bissau-Guinean military have chosen to derail the democratic process in Guinea-Bissau.”

The African Union’s commission chief Jean Ping condemned what he called “outrageous acts which undermine the efforts to stabilise the situation in Guinea-Bissau and tarnish the image of the country and Africa.”

“The AU will not accept any unconstitutional seizure of power and attempt at undermining the democratic process in Guinea-Bissau,” Ping said as reported by AFP.



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