AU Peace and Security Council aims to help Guinea-Bissau end coup cycle

Years of unrest and evolution in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau were major topics of discussion at the recent 556th meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU).

Guinea-Bissau, an AU nation, has a population of 1.7 million. The nation declared independence from Portugal in 1973. From that point on, political instability -- punctuated by assassinations and assassination attempts against the nation's rulers -- has been consistent.

A military coup occurred in 2003; legislative elections took place in March 2004. In the fall of 2004, a mutiny of military forces led to the defeat of the nation's armed forces. President João Bernardo Vieira was elected in 2005. In 2008, his residence was attacked by armed forces members, and a guard was killed.

Vieira was assassinated on March 2, 2009. Today, the country is ruled by president José Mário Vaz, who was elected after another military coup in April 2012.

No president elected in the nation has ever served a complete five-year term. The nation's per-capita gross domestic product ranks among the lowest in the world.

Although progress has been slow, AU officials have been encouraged by the progress in Guinea-Bissau. Recently, a new prime minister, Carlos Correia, was appointed, as well as a new Cabinet.

During the meeting, the PSC recognized the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its work with Guinea-Bissau. The PSC lauded ECOWAS' decision to extend a security mission to Guinea-Bissau until June 2016.

AU members said they remained committed to assisting Guinea-Bissau as it moved toward peace and development.

Organizations in this story

African Union Commission Roosevelt St Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa

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