- The weekend mutiny in chronically unstable Guinea-Bissau, with a brief detention of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, is strongly condemned by the regional body ECOWAS. The body threatens to intervene militarily if Bissau troops continue to jeopardise democracy.
Mutinous troops in Guinea-Bissau had detained Prime Minister Gomes on Thursday in what for a few days looked like a coup attempt. The troops nevertheless said they were loyal to President Malam Bacai Sanha, and agreed to his orders to free the Prime Minister.
This latest event by disobedient army officers in Guinea-Bissau has been strongly condemned by the UN and the African Union, which both have invested much in creating a stable democracy and economic development in the impoverished West African country.
Today, the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) made an even more forceful protest, saying it would not accept further unconstitutional moved by the Bissau armed forces. ECOWAS, which also has a major armed component, is strongly engaged in maintaining stability in West Africa.
In a statement issued in Abuja today, ECOWAS said it had "learnt with dismay and serious concern about reports of on-going attempts at destabilisation by a section of the military in Guinea-Bissau and wishes to condemn them in no uncertain terms as well as warn those responsible of a robust response and dire consequences from ECOWAS and the entire international community."
This is the clearest announcement yet of a possible military reaction from ECOWAS to possible new coup or mutiny attempts in Guinea-Bissau. ECOWAS would have a mandate to intervene with troops and has earlier shown it is capable and willing to oust armed groups threatening regional stability.
"The timing of the current acts of indiscipline by the military could not have been any worse, coming at a time when the successful presidential election of July 2009 has created the required environment for ECOWAS and the international community to engage the government and people of Guinea-Bissau in the efforts to stabilise the security environment, strengthen the democratic and national reconciliation processes, and initiate far-reaching security sector, social and economic reforms," the statement said.
The regional body said it was "watching the developments in the country very closely," adding it would "leave no stone unturned in its efforts to defend the democratic gains and maintain stability in the country."
ECOWAS finally urged the AU and the UN to also view this latest act by the Guinea-Bissau military as "an opportune moment to scale-up our joint efforts to stabilise the political, security and economic situation in the country." The UN has a peace-building mission in Guinea-Bissau, which however has a very vague mandate.
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