The Chief of General Staff of the Guinea-Bissau Armed Forces (CEMGFA), Biaguê Na Ntan, has rejected a decision by the West African regional grouping ECOWAS to strengthen its military alert force ECOMIB already in the country to ensure security during the presidential election on November 24.By Nouha Mancaly
Speaking at a ceremony marking the 55th anniversary of the establishment of the Guinean Armed Forces, in the presence of the Minister of National Defence, Luis Melo, General Biaguê Na Ntan said that the military contingent of the subregional organisation would not be allowed to enter the country.
An ECOWAS military mission that was in the capital Bissau this week met with Minister of Defence Luis Melo, Secretary of State for Public Order, Mario Saiegh, Prime Minister Aristides Gomes and President José Mario Vaz to prepare for the deployment of ECOMIB troops.
However, General Biaguê Na Ntan said Guinea-Bissau’s chances of joining the subregional police force remains open.
“They are our military colleagues and I am a member of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Staff Committee and I assure you that the foreign army will never come to Guinea Bissau” he said.
Na Ntan also insisted that the Guinea-Bissau armed forces were not interested in politics nor are they poised for a coup, noting that they were willing to ensure the security of the electoral process.
Minister of National Defence Luís Melo recalled the role of the armed forces in the country’s current political crisis, while urging the military to continue to fulfil its constitutional obligations.
Following this, other Guinea-Bissau politicians criticized ECOWAS’ position to strengthen its military force in the country, claiming that this tantamounts to interference in its internal affairs.
The Social Renewal Party (PRS) described the ECOWAS decision as a declaration of war because in its view any attempt to add to the military contingents in the country would betray the political legacy of Amilcar Cabral and Kumba Yalá.
ECOMIB alert forces have been deployed in Guinea-Bissau since 2012 following a coup that overthrew Carlos Gomes Júnior.
Since then, ECOWAS leader have decided to send ECOMIB forces to the country to ensure the security of Guinea-Bissau’s institutions and political figures.