Nigeria Donates $500,000, Vehicles To Guinea Bissau For Elections

Buhari Donates $500,000, Vehicles To Guinea Bissau For Elections
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the donation of $500,000 to Guinea Bissau to support the country’s election process.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

He explained that the approval was in response to an urgent request for assistance by the Government of Guinea Bissau.

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Shehu added that the President supported the country with 350 units of electoral kits, 10 motorcycles, five Hilux vans, and two light trucks.

According to him, this will ensure that legislative elections, which should help in stabilising Guinea Bissau, hold in the country.

As Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, President Buhari directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to undertake an urgent mission as his Special Envoy to Guinea Bissau.

Shehu said the minister would visit the country in the company of ECOWAS Commission President, Jean-Claude Brou.

In a separate development, Mr Onyeama would undertake a mission to Cotonou, Benin Republic, to deliver a personal message to President Patrice Talon from President Buhari.

The visit, according to the presidential aide, is in the context of the brewing political crisis ahead of the legislative elections scheduled to hold on April 28, 2019, in the country.

Read the full statement below:

In his capacity as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State, President Muhammadu Buhari, this morning, directed the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama to undertake an urgent mission as his Special Envoy to Guinea Bissau, in the company of ECOWAS Commission President, Jean-Claude Brou.

President Buhari had in response to an urgent request for assistance by the Government of Guinea Bissau graciously approved support to the country’s election process including three hundred and fifty (350) units of electoral kits, ten(10) motorcycles, five(5) Hilux vans, two(2) light trucks and Five hundred thousand US Dollars ($500,000).

This vital assistance ensured that legislative elections held in Guinea Bissau, which should help in stabilising the country.

In a separate development, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister will also undertake a mission to Cotonou, Benin, to deliver a personal message to President Patrice Talon from President Buhari.

The visit is in the context of the brewing political crisis ahead of April 28, 2019, legislative elections in the country.

Niger Govt Official Arrested In Guinea Bissau Over Cocaine

Guinea Map

 

A man arrested in Guinea Bissau last week following the seizure of nearly 800 kg of cocaine from a fish truck is an adviser to the speaker in Niger’s parliament, judicial police in Guinea Bissau said on Monday.

The 789 kg stash was the largest ever seized in Guinea Bissau, a former Portuguese colony on the Atlantic Coast that has long been a major trans-shipment point for Latin American cocaine headed to Europe.

Guinea Bissau’s police arrested four individuals near the town of Safim including Mohamed Sidi Ahmed, an adviser to Nigerien parliament speaker Ousseini Tinni, said Domingos Monteiro, deputy director of the judicial police.

Sidi Ahmed, who was carrying an ID card for the National Assembly of Niger, was presented to the public prosecutor and remains in detention, Monteiro said.

It was not immediately possible to contact Sidi Ahmed’s lawyer. A spokeswoman for Tinni was not available for comment. The identities of the three other individuals who were arrested were not immediately clear.

The judicial police said that the seizure of the drugs near the town of Safim was the result of a four-month intelligence operation. The largest prior cocaine seizure in Guinea Bissau was 650 kg in 2007.

The United Nations said last year that Africa and Asia were becoming cocaine trafficking and consumption hubs, and Guinea Bissau’s mix of weak law enforcement and a maze of islands and unpoliced mangroves have helped make it a smuggler’s haven.

The country voted on Sunday in long-delayed parliamentary elections, which are meant to draw a line under political wrangling that has seen seven different prime ministers in the last five years.

Guinea-Bissau Votes In Hope Of Ending Long Leadership Deadlock

Bystanders speak as they gather in front of a wall covered with election campaign posters in Bissau on March 8, 2019. Guinea-Bissau, a small country in West Africa, where parliamentary elections are being held on March 10, is one of the poorest and most unstable states in the world, known for its production of cashew nuts and narco-traffickers. The poll, originally scheduled for November, is supposed to end a political crisis opened by the sacking of the Prime Minister in August 2015.

 

Voters in Guinea-Bissau went to the polls Sunday to elect a new parliament in the hope of ending a protracted leadership deadlock in a country that has become renowned for drug trafficking and instability.

“I came to vote because I want the development of my country. I hope that the day passes off calmly,” said Victor Pereira, 42.

The one-time Marxist ruling party PAIGC, which has run the poor West African country of some two million for most of the 45 years since winning independence from Portugal, is fielding candidates along with 20 opposition parties.

Among them are the main opposition Party of Social Renewal and the Movement for Democratic Change (Madem-G15), made up of dissidents from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

The latest crisis in the notoriously volatile country arose in August 2015 when President Jose Mario Vaz, elected a year earlier, sacked his prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira who was head of the PAIGC, after a falling out.

At the time, the parallel economy came to play a preponderant role, fuelled by drug trafficking.

Vaz appointed a series of prime ministers, but none garnered sufficient support to achieve a parliamentary majority.

Finally, in April 2018, the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediated an agreement leading to the designation of a consensus prime minister, Aristide Gomes, and the resumption of work by the 102-seat parliament.

Gomes was given the caretaker task of preparing for parliamentary polls, in which 36 percent of candidates must be women for the first time.

Initially set for November 18, the polls were postponed to March 10 mainly for technical reasons.

UN Chief Pessimistic

The party that wins on Sunday should appoint the future prime minister, who could once again be Vaz’s rival Simoes Pereira.

“These are the most contested elections in the history of Guinea-Bissau. We are coming out of a near four-year political crisis and no government has been able to complete its term,” noted political analyst Rui Landim.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded a note of pessimism last month when he said: “Nothing suggests that these elections will make it possible to resolve the problems undermining the country.”

He said a solution could lie in a constitutional review to “clarify the division of labour” between the president and prime minister.

On a positive note, Guterres also said that “the armed forces have remained neutral and have not interfered with the constitutional order” — in a country that has seen 16 coup attempts since independence of which four were successful.

International sanctions remain in place since 2012, after the last violent power seizure.

Guinea-Bissau’s porous coastline and chronic instability have made it a target for Latin American drug lords trafficking cocaine to Europe, implicating senior government and military officials.

Cashews, the country’s main export, accounted for nearly half of the national budget in 2017. Growth slowed to around 3.8 percent in 2018 after a drop in cashew production caused by bad weather.

The opposition has contested the accuracy of the electoral roll for Sunday’s polls, which will be closely watched by international observers.

Campaigning ended on Friday. Some 760,000 people are eligible to vote, with polls closing at 7:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Sunday. First results are expected 48 hours later.

Military sources told AFP that the security forces had been put on alert for any possible violence.

Another election is on the horizon, as Vaz’s five-year term ends on June 23.

UN Urges Guinea-Bissau To Set Election Date

The UN special representative for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas on Wednesday urged Guinea-Bissau authorities to set a date for legislative elections that have been delayed indefinitely.

The polls, originally meant to have taken place on  November 18, are seen as a way to resolve a crisis gripping the country since President Jose Mario Vaz sacked his prime minister in August 2015.

The UN, African Union and the Economic Community of West Africa last month had appealed for the elections to happen on schedule.

But Vaz said on November 15 that, as a voter registration survey has been extended to November 20, the election date could only be given at the end of that process. The survey has since been extended another two weeks.

“The authorities must fix a precise date for the legislative elections and not continue pushing it back,” Ibn Chambas said in a meeting with Senegal’s Foreign Press Association in Dakar.

The repeated delays “are creating a limbo which is not very encouraging,” he said, adding that “it seems to me that’s what the authorities want”.

Ibn Chambas said that, with the voter census ongoing, “I don’t see a problem in having the elections this year, before the end of December — but even if that doesn’t happen, a date needs to be set for 2019”.

Analysts said a 2018 date was looking more and more unlikely, given laws saying there needed to be a period between the end of the survey, the announcement of an election date, and the organisation of the campaigns.

According to the government, 70 percent of the electorate has so far been counted in the voter census.

AFP

Soldiers Arrested For Alleged Attempt To Kill Guinea-Bissau Army Chief

Six soldiers were arrested in mid-December for an attempt on the life of Guinea-Bissau’s army chief, AFP learned on Monday from a military court source.

Two heads of the armed forces were murdered in 2004 and 2009 in coup-prone Guinea Bissau, where the army is often implicated in political crises that regularly rock the country.

The six detained men targeted General Biague Na Ntam, several sources told AFP, without elaborating on the circumstances of the assassination attempt.

“Their case has been heard and sent up to the military tribunal,” said General Daba Na Walna, head of the country’s high military court.
They were arrested on December 14 and 15, but this was only made public Monday. The six men are currently being held at a prison located at an air base.

Two majors, a captain and a lieutenant were based at barracks 150 kilometres east of the capital, Bissau, the military source and a human rights organisation confirmed.

“We gave the detained men buckets to wash in, toiletries,” said Augusto Mario da Silva, President of Guinea Bissau’s Human Rights League, adding that better conditions had been demanded for the soldiers, as well as the guarantee of defence lawyers.

The tiny west African state has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015, when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974, with President Joao Bernardo Vieira assassinated in 2009 alongside General Tagme Na Waie.

ECOWAS Threatens Guinea-Bissau With Sanctions As Crisis Drags

West African leaders on Saturday threatened to slap Guinea-Bissau with sanctions unless the country’s grinding political crisis was resolved within two months.

In a summit in Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it was “disappointed with the absence of progress in the peace process” in the tiny west African state, which has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015.

The crisis erupted when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira.

Talks mediated by Guinean President Alpha Conde and Togolese counterpart Faure Gnassingbe in October 2016 had envisaged naming a new prime minister and assembling a unity government.

ECOWAS called on Conde and Gnassingbe “to continue consultation within the next two months without which collective and individual sanctions will be handed down against all those who constitute themselves into an obstacle”.

Vaz had this week proposed fresh talks to find a way out of the crisis but opposition parties objected to the plan.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974.

AFP

Buhari Wants Nigerian Troops Back From Guinea Bissau

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday told the President of ECOWAS Commission, Marcel A. de Souza that Nigerian troops in Guinea Bissau need to be sent back home.

He said this when he hosted Marcel A. de Souza at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

According to a statement by Buhari’s special adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said he expects a formal report on the situation in Guinea Bissau at the 52nd Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government set to hold on Saturday in Abuja.

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“We need our troops back home, and I hope the President of that country will accept a constitutional way to resolve the situation there,” Buhari said.

The ECOWAS Commission boss in response thanked Nigeria for agreeing to host the 52nd Ordinary Session at short notice, adding that the impact of Nigeria was quite strong in the organisation. He said further that Nigeria will make an impact in the ECOWAS region having just come out of recession.

“We are under financial pressure due to terrorist attacks in the sub-region, but Nigeria being out of recession will have an impact on the entire region,” de Souza said.

He noted that Nigeria was the highest contributor of troops to Guinea Bissau, but admitted that “the troops can’t be there endlessly.”

Buhari also said it was gladdening that the organisation demand accountability from its headquarters staff, which made it invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from Nigeria recently to look into its books.

“Thanks for being firm, and for insisting on transparency and accountability at the ECOWAS headquarters,” President Buhari said, adding that Nigeria would continue to fulfil its obligations to the sub-regional body.

Guinea-Bissau: Osinbajo Supports ECOWAS-led Mediation Process

Yemi Osinbajo Flags Off Lagos-Ibadan New Rail ProjectThe Nigerian Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated the nation’s commitment to  support the ECOWAS-led mediation process, and the full swift restoration of peace in Guinea-Bissau.

He said this after a closed door meeting with the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Embalo, in Kaduna State.

The meeting lasted for over 45 minutes and had in attendance, the Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Bukar Ibrahim, Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Bala Bantex, top security officials and other government functionaries.

Speaking to reporters after the closed door meeting, Prof. Osinbajo expressed deep concern over the protracted political and institutional crisis, due to the inability of political stakeholders to reach a lasting and consensual solution.

He however, said that as longtime allies, the Nigerian government will continue to partner with Guinea-Bissau in the areas of security and economy.

Guinea-Bissau has been in the throes of  power struggle since August 2015, following the removal of the Prime Minister, Domingos Pereira by the country’s President, Jose Vaz.

President Buhari Pledges Continued Support For Guinea Bissau

Muhammadu Buhari, Guinea BissauPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday affirmed that as the Chairman of ECOWAS Contact Group on Guinea Bissau, he would do his best to ensure that the country does not relapse into crisis.

The President made the declaration on Wednesday at a meeting with the Prime Minister of Guinea Bissau, Umar El-Mukhtar Sissoco-Embola, at the State House in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He expressed satisfaction on the gradual return of normalcy to the West African country.

In a statement by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, President Buhari assured Mr Sissoco-Embola of Nigeria’s continued support to political stability in Guinea Bissau.

He, however, urged the leaders to work hard to reach a lasting solution to the political crisis in the country.

The President further congratulated the new Prime Minister on his appointment and asked him to put the interest of the country and its people ahead of everything else.

In his remarks, the visiting minister Sissoco described President Buhari as his role model, adding that his country would continue to thank the government and people of Nigeria for standing by them in their moment of crisis.

He also pledged his country’s commitment to improving ties with Nigeria.

Guinea Bissau Agrees To Deal Aimed At Ending Crisis

guinea bussaGuinea Bissau political rivals have agreed to a road map that includes the formation of a new government, according to a statement from regional mediators seeking to end a year-long political crisis in the West African country.

President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira in August 2015 and the country’s political institutions have been paralyzed by infighting since then.

Observers hoped the appointment of Baciro Dja as prime minister in May would ease the deadlock but he has failed to win the support of a key faction within the ruling PAIGC party.

The United Nations has warned that the crisis might benefit drug traffickers and attract “extremist terrorist groups” seeking to gain a foothold in the region.

The former Portuguese colony is notoriously unstable and has seen nine coups or attempted coups since 1980. The turbulence has helped it become a major transit point for cocaine trafficked from South America to Europe.

A team of mediators from regional bloc ECOWAS, led by neighboring Guinea’s President Alpha Conde and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma, spent Saturday in talks with stakeholders in the capital Bissau.

“They (parties consulted) have all shown their support for the plan proposed by mediators,” said Guinea’s government late on Saturday, after meetings with the president, prime minister, PAIGC as well as the main opposition party PRS.

“The signals being sent are reassuring that the crisis in Guinea Bissau is beginning to ease,” the statement said.

The six-point plan includes a preliminary agreement to form a consensus government, an agreement to reform the constitution and the defense sector, it said.

It gave no time frame for the new government.

Nigeria Seeks Unity In Guinea Bissau

Guinea BissauThe Nigerian government has appealed to political leaders in Guinea Bissau to embrace unity and avoid any act that could plunge the nation into further crisis.

In a meeting on Monday with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Guinea Bissau, Mr Modibo Toure, President Muhammadu Buhari decried the lingering political crisis in the West African country.

“They must accept responsibility for leadership to stabilise their own country,” the President warned.

He pointed out that the country’s political leaders, not outsiders that could effectively resolve the political crisis in Guinea Bissau.

A statement by the spokesman for the President, Mr Garba Shehu, said that President Buhari told the visiting envoy that Nigeria would welcome increased support from ECOWAS and the United Nations to stabilise the country and prevent breakdown of law and order.

President Buhari said Nigeria had a responsibility to the region and the rest of Africa and assured him that “we will not shirk on our responsibility, in spite of the hardship confronting us”.

Mr Toure had requested that Nigeria should use its clout in the regional bloc, ECOWAS, to break the deadlock in Guinea Bissau.

He warned that the nation faced a very grim future if the country continued without a functioning government.