In an effort to end the political crisis in his country, the President of Guinea Bissau paid a one-day visit to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf beseeching her as the Chairperson of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS to help resolve the crisis.
President Jose Mario Vaz arrived on Monday and was met upon arrival by his Liberian counterpart and several top government officials, including Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe.
President Vaz held a closed-door meeting with President Sirleaf that a government spokesman said was to beseech her – and through her ECOWAS, to increase consultation with the opposition parties to end the 18-month political crisis in his country.
Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek M. Piah said on state radio that “There is a political situation in Guinea Bissau that he (Vaz) might have come to convey some information or to consult with President Sirleaf as head of ECOWAS.”
Sirleaf was in Guinea Bissau recently where she met with the parties, and urged them for a peaceful end to the conflict.
Hundreds of protesters marched in the capital of Guinea Bissau on March 11, demanding the departure of President Jose Mario Vaz for sacking Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira in August 2015.
There is an ongoing mediation effort led by President Sirleaf along with two other ECOWAS Heads of State.
“Currently, there is an ECOWAS Military Force in Guinea Bissau as a result of the crisis but President Vaz has made an appeal for more direct involvement of ECOWAS Heads of State in finding a resolution for the crisis,” he said on state radio.
The United Nations has said any breakthrough in the Guinea-Bissau crisis would be short-lived if the structural causes of instability are not addressed.
Modibo Touré, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS), called for both sides to demonstrate a more sustained and constitutional manner in their approaches to the situation, while revising both the electoral laws and those governing political parties in preparation for the 2018 legislative elections.
Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Lewis G. Brown II, representing President Sirleaf as Head of ECOWAS, said at the UN that the failure to implement the Conakry Agreement and the contentious non-consensual appointment of the Prime Minister were issues of grave concern.
To resolve the crisis, Ambassador Brown said President Sirleaf led a mission to Guinea Bissau in November 2016 that resulted in a final communiqué from key stakeholders that focused on the swift and consensual appointment of a Prime Minister and the formation of an all-inclusive government.
President Sirleaf, in November last year, lauded the appointment of Prime Minister Umaro El Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo to replace Simoes Pereira.
The President reassured Prime Minister Embalo of her commitment to the national reconciliation. “We have been waiting for this appointment and now that it has been made, I told the President he can depend on me as the current Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority for the necessary support to promote the development of his country,” she said.