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West Africa bloc backs sacked G.Bissau PM, denounces president

West Africa bloc backs sacked G.Bissau PM, denounces president
  • Ecowas denounced as illegal President Jose Mario Vaz's sacking last week of Gomes and his internationally backed government.
  • Gomes has already described Vaz's sacking of him and his cabinet as a coup paving the way for him to stop preparations for the presidential poll.
  • Vaz, 62, is one of the 12 candidates running for the presidency.

Bissau,

West African leaders on Sunday reiterated their backing for Guinea-Bissau's Aristide Gomes, sacked as prime minister by the country's interim president three weeks ahead of a presidential election.

A delegation of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) denounced as illegal President Jose Mario Vaz's sacking last week of Gomes and his internationally backed government.

Vaz had no authority to dismiss the administration or appoint a replacement government because his five-year mandate as president had expired in June, said the Ecowas statement.

At a June 29 meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Ecowas had agreed that Vaz could stay on until the presidential election due November 24, but leave the government to run the country.

ELECTIONJean-Claude Brou, president of the Ecowas Commission, warned that anyone who tried to prevent the holding of the election this month faced the possibility of sanctions.

Gomes has already described Vaz's sacking of him and his cabinet as a coup paving the way for him to stop preparations for the presidential poll.

"My government is the only legitimate one recognised by the international community," said Gomes after meeting the Ecowas delegation in Bissau.

"I am continuing my work, which is to organise the elections at the scheduled date," he continued, adding: "If the president sets fire to the house, he risks being left without a roof."

The Ecowas delegation that visited Guinea-Bissau Sunday also met with Vaz, foreign diplomats in the capital, lawmakers and members of the electoral commission, an AFP journalist reported.

But they did not meet the prime minister Vaz appointed to replace Gomes, Faustino Imbali.

CANDIDATESThe UN Security Council on Friday called for the authorities to respect the date set for the holding of the presidential election and rejected Vaz's appointment of the new government.

Vaz has already said the election will go ahead, with a second round if necessary being held on December 29.

Vaz, 62, is one of the 12 candidates running for the presidency.

Another former prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, who heads the African Party of the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), is running against him.

PAIGC won a parliamentary majority in the March 10 legislative election.

Vaz has governed since 2014 in Guinea Bissau, which is stricken by poverty, corruption and drug trafficking.