Coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau: ECOWAS crisis

Coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau: ECOWAS crisis

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Only recently, the military of Burkina Faso under Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba ousted the leader after a mutiny occurred. President Roch Marc Kabore lost power with little more than a whimper. Now, an attempted coup is happening in Guinea-Bissau.

President Umaro Cissoko Embaló of Guinea-Bissau naturally denounced the coup. He said it is a “failed attack against democracy.”

He further stated, “Calm returns to Bissau!”

However, Kabore in Burkina Faso downplayed the crisis before being replaced. Hence, uncertainty abounds until more is known within the next few days.

The BBC reports, “Unidentified heavily armed gunmen attacked the government palace while President Embaló was meeting Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam inside, according to reports from the ground.”

Coups in Guinea-Bissau happen all too often. Thus this nation, blighted by foreign debt and increasingly resembling a narco-state because of the growing influence of Latin American drug cartels, goes from instability to instability.

The Guardian reports, “After independence from Portuguese colonial rule, Guinea-Bissau has grappled with successive coup attempts, civil war and corruption, and is one of the world’s poorest countries. Drug trafficking is a major challenge and in the 2000s, it became known as a transit point for cocaine between Latin America and Europe as traffickers profited from corruption and weak law enforcement.”

Coups in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are commonplace. This concerns Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Mali. Ironically, the nation of Chad – also impacted by the influence of the military – is a regional nation that is on the frontline in helping several ECOWAS nations against Islamic terrorism.

ECOWAS said, “Ecowas is following with great concern the evolution of the situation in Guinea-Bissau … where military gunfire is taking place around the government palace.”

However, influence and sanctions by ECOWAS have little meaning these days – given the percentage of nations in this bloc that has had coups in the last few years. Nigeria should be a regional powerhouse. Instead, Nigeria was helped by the armed forces of Chad in recent history concerning the spread of terrorism (Boko Haram and affiliates of ISIS emanating from Nigeria and spreading to Lake Chad region).

Modern Tokyo Times recently said, “Realism needs to be part of the new transparency in ECOWAS. Especially with Nigeria being blighted by endless Islamist massacres, Fulani bloodletting of killing Christians, rampant corruption, and other ills. Hence, events in Burkina Faso need honest regional and international brokers to support a country that feels threatened by the regional dynamics of Islamist terrorism.”

Given recent events in Burkina Faso, it is important to wait a few days until the bigger picture emerges. Irrespective of the outcome of the coup, it is clear that ECOWAS needs a new direction and to acknowledge events on the ground. This concerns regional chaos throughout the Sahel, corruption in West Africa, mass inequality, the convulsions of Islamic terrorism, rich elites siphoning wealth, and other regional ills.


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