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President Sirleaf Heads ECOWAS Delegation to G/Bissau

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An ECOWAS Delegation has called for a national dialogue in the aim of agreeing a political stability pact, as well as constitutional and institutional reforms ahead of Guinea Bissau’s next scheduled elections in 2018.

The Chairman of ECOWAS – the West Africa Regional group, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, traveled to Bissau last Saturday at the head of the delegation to help mediate talks over the agreement.

Following the discussions, President Sirleaf and delegation implored all parties to the political agreement in Guinea Bissau to live up to the terms of the deal, including the appointment of a prime minister to name a new inclusive government and parliamentary approval of its program.

As the regional mission pushed for the implementation of a deal to end a year-long political crisis, hundreds of protesters in the Capital, Bissau, demanding fresh elections on Saturday were dispersed by police using tear-gas.

President Jose Mario Vaz sacked his Prime Minister DomingosSimoes Pereira in August 2015 sparking infighting within the ruling PAIGC party that has left the West African nation’s institutions gridlocked.

Demonstrators – some of them carrying signs reading “Jose Mario Vazcrisis Out!”, marched on the presidential palace in the capital Bissau, calling for parliament to be dissolved and new elections to be held before riot police intervened.

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

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. Rival factions agreed on a deal to end the political infighting last month, but implementation of the agreement has stalled.

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