Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - ECOWAS has imposed diplomatic, economic and financial sanctions on Guinea Bissau after the 29 April meeting in Banjul, The Gambia, between the foreign ministers of the regional Contact Group and the country's political stakeholders failed to reach a consensual arrangement to return the country to constitutional rule within 12 months.
An ECOWAS Commission statement said the two-tier sanctions regime which came into effect by midnight on 29 April 2012 also targets members of the junta and their associates who are behind the current impasse in the country's political process.
The seven-nation Contact Group of Benin, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and by Nigeria (Chair) was set up by the extraordinary summit of 26 April as a follow up mechanism for the decisions of the summit in resolving the current political crisis in the country, triggered by the 12 April 2012 coup that disrupted a process to elect a replacement for late President Bacai Sanha, who died in January 2012.
The extraordinary summit, held in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, had denounced the 12 April 2012 coup and the attempt by the military command to foist a political arrangement on the country through the formation of a National Transitional Council, which regional leaders condemned as unconstitutional and vowed not to recognise in line with its zero tolerance policy for unconstitutional accession to power.
The summit also issued a 72-hour ultimatum for the military junta to submit to a mediation process for a consensual transition arrangement that will result in the restoration of constitutional democracy to the country and set up the contact group to follow up on the process.
But after more than 12 hours of talks between the ministers and representatives of the country's junta, political parties and civil societies chaired by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, the group concluded that it was fruitless to continue as it became obvious that "the head of the military junta was not willing to negotiate and clearly prefers to face the consequences."
A delegation of the ministers, including the President of the ECOWAS Commission, left for Abuja after the talks to brief President Goodluck Jonathan on the outcome of the meeting.
Heads of State and Government of the contact group are due to meet 3 May to take "all necessary measures" to enforce the decisions of the 26 April 2012 extraordinary summit.
-0- PANA SEG 1May2012