DAKAR, Senegal (AA) – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has extended its mission in crisis-rocked Guinea-Bissau by another six months, according to a statement issued on Sunday.
ECOWAS recently held an extraordinary summit in Dakar, where it announced plans to maintain its presence in Guinea-Bissau.
“The organization will monitor developments in Guinea-Bissau to help consolidate peace and institutional stability,” Macky Sall, Senegalese president and current ECOWAS chairman, said in the statement.
On Aug. 12, President Jose Mario Vaz sacked Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira and his entire cabinet, which he accused of corruption, nepotism and obstruction of justice.
The move triggered widespread fears of a new political crisis in the coup-prone country.
The ECOWAS mission in Guinea-Bissau had been slated to wrap up its mission on Dec. 31 of this year after its mandate was earlier extended in May.
A dozen heads of state and government took part in the Dakar summit, including the presidents of Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali and Togo.
Since winning independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has seen numerous coups and counter-coups, which have prevented a single elected leader from serving out his full term in office.
Civilian rule was restored to the country in June of last year when Vaz assumed office through a peaceful election, although tension soon appeared between him and his recently-sacked prime minister.
The UN Security Council, meanwhile, has continued to call for concerted action – by the UN, the EU and the African Union, along with other regional groups – to help resolve Guinea-Bissau’s burgeoning political crisis.
ECOWAS, a West African regional bloc founded in 1975, seeks to promote economic, social and cultural integration among its 15 member states, which include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
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