- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this weekend announced that it plans to restart its conditional financial aid to Guinea-Bissau, given that the upcoming June presidential elections are organised in a fair way without irregularities. IMF support for Guinea-Bissau has been on ice since the country slipped into political and economic chaos.
An IMF mission has just ended a two-week visit to the impoverished country, studying the macro-economic performance of the Bissau government. On departure, the mission promised to support the government of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior to help consolidate peace and stability after the military rebellion in 2003, which overthrew the elected but chaotic government of President Kumba Yala and instituted a transitional government.
Finally, there was some hope of progress in Guinea-Bissau, the IMF mission emphasised. The Fund's representatives in particular praised the 11 February meeting in Lisbon between government officials from Guinea-Bissau and the country's development partners, chaired by Portugal's thus-Minister of Foreign Affairs, António Monteiro.
The Lisbon meeting had paved the way for new round table negotiations on Guinea-Bissau's economic future, to start later this year. The round table discussions are to unite major international and regional organisations, including the UN's Economic and Social Council.
Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau and its French-speaking northern neighbour Senegal are to negotiate an agreement to establish a joint management zone in their disputed offshore waters, believed to be rich on oil. A joint zone will open for oil and gas explorations in this offshore region. The new negotiations are to assure that Dakar authorities do not get the lion's share of these potential resources off Guinea-Bissau and Senegal's southern Casamance province.
Negotiations with neighbour states were emphasising on the urgent necessity of Guinea-Bissau to start living in peace in a troubled region. At the Lisbon meeting, this had been underlined by countries as Portugal, France, the UK and the US, having in mind the many conflicts of West Africa during the last 16 years, ranging from Sierra Leone to Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. Guinea-Bissau has been directly and indirectly affected by these conflicts.
The political stability in Guinea-Bissau however remains fragile. Only last week, the head of the country's armed forces, Tagmé Na Waie, had to calm down the public by publicly denying that interim President Henrique Rosa and the Prime Minister were planning to assassinate him and other officers. These allegations had been made by opposition MP Biaia Guad Pana and had caused fears of a new coup.
Civilian and military officials in Guinea-Bissau now however jointly are urging for peace and stability to finalise the political transition and restart the poor country's economic development. Within short time, one expects the official announcement of the presidential election date, which will be sometime in the end of June this year.
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