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On Guinea Bissau, Bamba Offers to Travel to Lisbon, Mali in the Wings

By Matthew Russell Lee, Partial exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 26, updated -- As if Guinea Bissau didn't have enough problems, now the dispute between ECOWAS and the Lusophone grouping CPLP about how to approach the country has grown more stark.

  Carlos Gomes Jr. and Raimundo Pereira were ousted in the coup. Now the CPLP won't recognize the post-coup government without them, while ECOWAS will.

  Inner City Press asked ECOWAS' speaker, Ivorian Ambassador Bamba, about the disagreement. "You have to be realistic," he told Inner City Press exclusively, "you must have interlocutors."

  Given what happened in Cote d'Ivoire last year, Inner City Press asked Bamba is such "being realistic" wouldn't have meant not using the UN and French Force Licorne for Alassane Ouattara but rather leaving Laurent Gbagbo in power, since unlike the Guinea Bissau coup leaders he at least received nearly 50% of the vote.

  Bamba pointed out that he ended his address inside the Council chamber with an offer to go negotiated with CPLP in Lisbon. This was not in his prepared text - "I added it," Bamba told Inner City Press.

  Initially, only questionable UN envoy Joseph Mutaboba, who allowed an alleged drug kingpin to set up shop in the UN compound in Bissau, Brazil's Permanent Representative Viotti for the Peacebuilding configuration, Mozambique for CPLP and Bamba were to speak.

  But at the end of the open session, Portuguese Permanent Representative Cabral asked for the floor, to dispute Bamba's implication that Gomes' party is in the government and that things are safe or better in Bissau.

  After Cabral's intervention, a non-Western Security Council member came out and told Inner City Press, "who is Portugal to be nosing around in Guinea Bissau, the colonist coming back as a friend? I might want to reform the Vatican, but does that mean I have a right to? This is the biggest hoax, post 1945, the colonists become the friend."

  In the background is ECOWAS' proposal about Mali, and how to deal with the coup leaders there. With former colonial power France taking over the Council presidency in August, can we expect a Licorne-like force?

  On Guinea-Bissau, at least two delegations told Inner City Press it's time for the African Union to step in with some leadership.

Update: and when consultations ended, SRSG Mutaboba escaped through the Chamber and GA lobby, no stakeout. Usually talkative Nestor Osorio, July's Council president, declined a stakeout, saying a statement is being negotiated between Portugal and Togo, that is, CPLP and ECOWAS. Waiting for the African Union? Watch this site.

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