The Economic Community of West African States, a regional group of fifteen West African countries often referred to as ECOWAS, after months of election dispute has finally recognized the victory of Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea-Bissau.
ECOWAS, established on 28 May 1975, operates in three co-official languages – French, English, and Portuguese, and consists of two institutions for implementing policies. Its core mission is to promote good governance, security and economic integration across the region.
This regional intergovernmental organization, in an official statement, said the decision followed “a thorough analysis of the political situation in the country.” The development signifies a diplomatic victory for Sissoco Embaló, who had organized his own investiture at the end of February and moved to the presidential palace, with the support of the country’s military.
However, ECOWAS has asked Embaló to appoint a new Prime Minister and a new government by 22 May at the latest, “in accordance with Guinea Bissau’s constitution.” In January, Guinea Bissau’s National Electoral Commission had proclaimed Sissoco Embaló, a former army general and prime minister, winner of the runoff 29 December polls with 53.55%. His opposition challenger, Domingos Pereira, then appealed to the Supreme Court for a recount of the ballots cast in the second round of the vote. April 3 and 15, the Constitutional Court of Guinea confirmed the results of the March 22 national referendum on the draft of the new Constitution and parliamentary elections. Thus, the new fundamental law, supported by 89.76 percent of voters, has been adopted. In the new Parliament, over two thirds of seats (79 out of 114) were won by the ruling party, Rally of the Guinean People – Rainbow.
Born in Bissau, Embaló holds a degree in International Relations from the Higher Institute of Social and Political Sciences at the Technical University of Lisbon, as well as both master’s degree in Political Science and doctorate in International Relations from University of Madrid. He served in the military, undertaking National Defense Studies at the National Defense Center of Spain, and underwent further studies on National Security in Brussels, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Japan and Paris. He rose to the rank of Brigadier-General. He specializes in African and Middle-Eastern affairs and in matters of military, international co-operation and development. He is also a former Minister of African Affairs.
Virginie Battu-Henriksson, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the European Union explained, in a statement, that the decision taken by the ECOWAS to recognize the victory of Umaro Sissoco Embaló at the second round of presidential elections of December 2019 brings an end to a prolonged post-electoral stalemate which was detrimental to the stability of the country.
“It is crucial that all actors respect the decision and work within the constitutional framework. As a first step, the President should appoint, at the latest on 22 May, a Prime Minister and a new Government in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and in conformity with the results of the legislative elections of March 2019,” the statement said.
The EU further commends the ECOWAS for its continuous engagement with Guinea-Bissau and remains committed to lend its full support to the consolidation of democracy and stability in Guinea-Bissau. Guinea-Bissau follows a nonaligned foreign policy and seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and organizations. Sharing borders with Guinea (to the southeast), Gambia and Senegal (to the north), Guinea-Bissau attained its independence in September 1973. Its population estimated at 1.9 million, and more than two-thirds lives below the poverty line. The economy depends mainly on agriculture: fish, cashew nuts and peanuts are its major exports. Besides ECOWAS, Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union and the United Nations.