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Vol 39 No 25

Published 18th December 1998

Guinea Bissau

December surprise

West African leaders meeting, on 14 December in Lomé, Togo, to talk about Guinea Bissau have had a surprising success. They have brokered a power-sharing deal between President João Bernardo Vieira and the army rebels, led by General Ansumane Mane, in the shape of a transitional government under Prime Minister Francisco Fadul. However the composition of the government is yet to be agreed: Mane's supporters were insisting on getting the defence and internal affairs portfolios. Fresh elections are to be held next March. Importantly they also agreed on a West African peacekeeping force to police the agreement and persuaded Nigeria’s Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar to provide a contingent of troops. This will give credibility to a force that was previously to include troops from just Niger, Benin and The Gambia (none of which speak Portuguese, let alone Criolo). Until the Nigerians came on board, the Senegalese troops were preparing to withdraw before the end of December, taking the Guineans in their wake.

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