AU expresses deep concern over situation in Guinea-Bissau, threatens sanctions

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-09 18:07:03|Editor: Lu Hui
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ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) has expressed deep concern over Guinea-Bissau's ongoing political turmoil and security deterioration, despite relentless regional and international efforts to bring stability to the country following demonstrations in October.

In its latest meeting on the current situation in the West African country, the Peace and Security Council of the 55-member pan-African bloc has expressed deep concern over the growing trend of drug-related crimes in Guinea-Bissau, according to an AU statement on Friday.

Stating that drug-related crimes remain a major security concern for Guinea-Bissau and contribute to the instability of the country, the council urged Guinea-Bissau's Prime Minister Aristides Gomes to strengthen legal measures to address drug-related crimes.

Deploring the loss of life and destruction of property during the demonstrations on Oct. 26, the council called on Guinea-Bissau's authorities to investigate the incident and bring to justice the perpetrators.

It also strongly condemned the "illegal dismissal of the legitimate and internationally recognized Government of Guinea-Bissau," as well as the "appointment of a new Prime Minister."

The council said it recognized the Gomes government as the only legitimate one of Guinea-Bissau and declared null and requested those who have been appointed through those decrees "recuse themselves."

It called on Guinea-Bissau's all political actors to scrupulously respect constitutionalism in the country, and called on them to unconditionally support the efforts of the Economic Communities of Western Africans States (ECOWAS) and refrain from any action that may negatively affect elections on Nov. 24 and a possible run-off on Dec. 29.

It also affirmed its determination to take appropriate measures including targeted sanctions against individuals and entities whose actions are fueling the constitutional crisis in Guinea-Bissau.

The Council has commended Guinea-Bissau's defense and security forces for remaining neutral in the face of the current political and constitutional crisis.

Guinea-Bissau has been mired in constant political instability since 2015 when President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed then Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, his main political rival, and is going through yet another wave of political instability.

Vaz dissolved the government led by Gomes in a presidential decree on Oct. 28. The decision was rejected by Gomes, who said he will not respect an "illegal" president.

Vaz's term should have ended in June. But during an ECOWAS summit that month, ECOWAS agreed that Vaz would stay as president of Guinea-Bissau until the presidential election, but the management of the country would be entrusted to Gomes.

ECOWAS has also warned that the government cannot be fired until the November presidential elections.