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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