ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, says it supports the decision to hold delayed parliamentary elections in Guinea Bissau but insists that President José Mário Vaz keep his fragile government as-is until the March 10 voting is complete.
The country postponed elections in November and December, citing technical and timeline difficulties with registration. Vaz announced the new date last week, while also appealing for a constitutional referendum that he says will help bring an end to the chronic political instability Bissau has known.
He made the referendum remarks during a Christmas dinner with high-level staff, according to RFI.
In its communique at the end of its recent session in Abuja, led by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the 15-member ECOWAS noted concern over the barriers to effectively organizing Guinea Bissau elections but urged the small West African nation to stick to a 2016 road map its member nations helped to negotiate.
Taye-Brook Zerihoun, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the UN Security Council last week of a potentially volatile situation because of mistrust and accusations of fraud and manipulation of the process. About 800,000 voters, or 95 percent of those eligible, are now registered in Guinea Bissau.
ECOWAS also expressed concern over Togo, where a political crisis continues as the opposition coalition demands the removal of President Faure Gnassingbé. He has remained in power since the 2005 death of his father, a family leadership dynasty that has spanned five decades.
Despite the efforts of ECOWAS mediators, led by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo and President Alpha Condé of Guinea, the Coalition of 14 opposition in Togo refused to accept the December 20 legislative elections as legitimate.
Togo is now planning local elections in 2019.