Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has welcomed the release of Guinea-Bissau's Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and Interim President Raimundo Pereira by the country's Military Command, which arrested and detained them after the 12 April coup in the country.
However, ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouédraogo, who applauded the release, urged the Military Command to also release the other political detainees held in the wake of the coup, which has been rejected and condemned by ECOWAS and the rest of the international community.
President Ouedraogo's reaction to Friday's release of the officials was contained in a statement issued by the regional bloc Monday on the meeting of the seven-nation Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau in Banjul, The Gambia.
The Commission President described the meeting as a "historic opportunity" to seek the sustainable resolution of the current crisis based on regional instruments.
He urged the stakeholders to subordinate their narrow interests to those of the country so that they can bequeath to future generations, a country that is stable and peaceful. He also assured that ECOWAS stood behind the country.
In his speech, host President Yahya Jammeh, whose country is one of the seven nations constituting the group, warned that ECOWAS was losing patience over the perennial crisis in Guinea-Bissau, and would not allow a tiny minority to take the country and region hostage to their interests.
"You have a choice today to make a clean break with the past," he said on Sunday while opening the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the group, set up by regional leaders to coordinate actions for the restoration of peace to Guinea-Bissau following the coup, triggered by the 18 March inconclusive presidential election.
President Jammeh described the latest regional effort to restore peace to the country as a "last ditch effort to resolve the crisis peacefully to avert an ECOWAS intervention."
"This is the second meeting being hosted here within the last five years on Guinea-Bissau and in as much as ECOWAS is willing to help you, you are the only people who can make this possible," the Gambian leader told the meeting attended by some 30 representatives of the various stakeholders in the country.
The seven-nation contact group on Guinea Bissau which is chaired by Nigeria and also includes Benin, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Senegal and Togo.
The ministers’ meeting will be followed by that of the Heads of State and Government of the group on 3 May.
-0- PANA SEG 30April2012