WARC Conference on the situation in Guinea Bissau- May 2, 2012
Speakers: His Excellency Mamadou Saliou Diallo Pires, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Guinea Bissau
His Excellency Mario Cabral, Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea Bissau in Dakar
Moderator: Professor Boubacar Barry, Dept of History, UCAD
The current situation in Guinea Bissau is of critical concern throughout West Africa. On April 12, just before the presidential run-off that was scheduled for April 22, the military staged a coup that overthrew the constitutional government. The political situation in Guinea Bissau has been unstable for the past several years and this most recent event has broad repercussions for the entire region. ECOWAS has instituted sanctions after the refusal by the military junta to allow the interim president to manage the return to civilian rule and has called for the deployment of a regional military force.
WARC organized a panel discussion on this issue on Wednesday, May 2. Press coverage of the panel was featured by major newspapers in Dakar, some even carrying the story front page. The panel was an excellent opportunity for the Bissauan community in Dakar to discuss issues currently prevailing in their country. The exchanges were quite charged; at one point M. Pires, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Guinea Bissau insisted on the need to discuss things political rather than militarily fight over them.
The panelists fully covered the issues, which were expertly placed in a historical and present context by history professor Boubacar Barry, who served as moderator. It was understood and almost agreed on that the military forces in Guinea Bissau need to be re-structured; each time elections are held in the country and the winner is not endorsed by the leadership of the military, the likelihood is that the latter will sooner or later stage a coup. The military are also accused of being cronies with narco-traffickers.
The panelists strongly emphasized the need to have a multi-national military force in the country to bring things back to normal. They applauded current efforts of the international community (including ECOWAS and the African Union) to restore the rule of law and democracy in Guinea Bissau, a country that won its independence from Portugal thanks to the sacrifices of national heroes such as the late Amilcar Cabral.
To watch the video of the conference, please click here.