Guinea Bissau Prime Minister-designate Francisco Fadul has said the fragile peace in Guinea Bissau might unravel if foreign troops remain in his country, news reports said. He also asked the European Union on Monday (yesterday) to try to secure their withdrawal and their replacement by a West African peacekeeping force.
Fadul said the first 200 Senegalese troops who left the capital, Bissau, this month were now in Guinea Bissau’s Bijagos archipelago, and not Senegal, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, quoting the Lisbon daily ‘Publico’.
Senegalese and Guinean forces were sent to Guinea Bissau in July 1998 to shore up the besieged Guinean president, Joao Bernardo Vieira. Their withdrawal is one of the key elements of a peace accord reached last November between the government and the self-styled Military Junta. The agreement, which also calls for elections by the end of March at the latest, says foreign troops must depart with the simultaneous arrival of the West African peacekeeping force, ECOMOG. So far only a company of ECOMOG Togolese soldiers has arrived. Benin, The Gambia and Niger have also offered troops for the force expected to number some 1,450 men.
Fadul said neither he nor the transitional government of national unity would take office before Senegalese and Guinean troops left, Lusa reported yesterday. Meanwhile, Junta leader General Ansumane Mane said at the weekend that ECOWAS must this week confirm the deployment of the full force by 31 January, or his army would demand the withdrawal of the Togolese.
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