Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - West African leaders who met at an extra-ordinary summit in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Thursday ordered the immediate deployment of a contingent of the ECOWAS Standby Force to Guinea-Bissau, where soldiers seized power 12 April and have set up a so-called National Transitional Council.
PANA reports that the 638 troops drawn from Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, will facilitate the withdrawal of the Angolan Technical and Military Assistance Mission in Guinea Bissau (MISSANG), assist in securing the transitional process and undertake preparatory work for the immediate implementation of the roadmap for the Defense and
Security Sector Reform Programme (DSSRP), among others.
A communique issued after the meeting and made available to PANA in Lagos also quoted the leaders as threatening to impose ''targeted sanctions'' on members of the Military Command and their associates, as well as well as diplomatic, economic and financial sanctions on Guinea Bissau, if they fail to accede to all demands by the regional bloc within 72 hours.
The demands include the immediate and unconditional release of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, Interim President Raimundo Pereira, and any other persons illegally detained by the Junta.
The leaders also demanded the immediate restoration of constitutional order to allow for the completion of the electoral process, which was truncated by the coup.
''Authority urges all the stakeholders to submit to the mediation efforts of ECOWAS with a view to agreeing the modalities for a consensual transition through the holding of elections within twelve months, taking note of the written commitment of 16 April 2012 by the Military Command
to accept the restoration of constitutional order, based on modalities to be worked out with the help of ECOWAS,'' the communique said.
The ECOWAS leaders reiterated their denunciation of the 17 April 2012 Agreement establishing the National Transitional Council, and reaffirmed that ECOWAS would never recognize any unconstitutional transitional arrangement.
They established a Regional Contact and Follow-up Group on Guinea Bissau, to be chaired by Nigeria and also comprising Benin, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Senegal and Togo, to coordinate the follow-up on the implementation of the Decisions of Summit on Guinea Bissau.
The summit was attended by 10 Presidents - Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire (ECOWAS Chairman); Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin; Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso; Jorge Carlos Fonseca of Cape Verde; Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia; Alpha Conde of Guinea; Dioncounda Traore of Mali; Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria; Macky Sall of Senegal and Faure Gnassingbe of Togo.
Also in attendance were the Prime Minister of Niger, Brigi Rafini, and Foreign Ministers Mohamed Mumuni of Ghana; Augustine Kpehe Nganfuan of Liberia and Joseph Dauda of Sierra Leone.
Representatives of Algeria, Mauritania, France, US, the African Union, the West African Economic and Monetary Union, the UN and the European Union also attended the one day meeting.
-0- PANA SEG 27April2012