Viewing cable 09ABUJA590
Title: ECOWAS' RESPONSE TO EVENTS IN GUINEA-BISSAU

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09ABUJA5902009-04-06 16:45:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
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P 061645Z APR 09
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RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5687
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 1087
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RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 000590 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA 
DEPARTMENT FOR SUSAN MCCARTY AND MIKE BITTRICK 
BAGHDAD FOR DMCCULLOUGH 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2019 
TAGS: ECOWAS KPKO PGOV PREL MASS SNAR PU GV CU PO
SG, CV, GH, NI 
SUBJECT: ECOWAS' RESPONSE TO EVENTS IN GUINEA-BISSAU 
 
REF: ABUJA 418 
 
ABUJA 00000590  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Walter N.S. Pflaumer for reasons 1.4 
 (b) and (d) 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 2, Poloff met with ECOWAS Director 
of Political Affairs Dr. Abdel Fatah-Musa to discuss ECOWAS' 
next steps in Guinea-Bissau.  Fatah-Musa, who has long 
followed Guinea-Bissau politics, related background 
information about what he said had led to the double 
assassinations of President Bernando Vieira and Armed Forces 
Chief of Staff Baptista Tagme Na Wai, and then described 
ECOWAS' plans to work with its international partners to 
assist Guinea-Bissau in reforming its security sector and 
holding credible elections.  He suggested that the USG could 
be most helpful in assisting to provide funding to security 
sector reform (SSR), as a counter to Portugal who, in his 
view, has been obstructionist and unhelpful in ECOWAS' 
efforts to stabilize Guinea-Bissau.  He also said that the 
U.S. would be invited to an April 20 summit in Praia, Cape 
Verde, to try and coordinate SSR details; at the moment his 
best guess was that Guinea Bissau would need an eventual 
deployment of a military/police contingent numbering around 
2000 personnel.  Poloff told Fatah-Musa he was in a listening 
mode on the issue, but would pass along ECOWAS' desire for 
the USG to provide funding for SSR assistance.  Meanwhile, 
Ambassador has been clear with GON Foreign Minister Maduekwe 
in his capacity as representing President Yar'Adua in his 
current capacity as Chairman of ECOWAS what the USG views are 
regarding involvement in Guinea Bissau's current challenges 
(reftel).  Maduekwe has led the two ECOWAS assessment teams 
to the country that followed the assassinations.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------ 
The Unkindest Cut of All 
------------------------ 
 
¶2. (C) On April 2, Poloff met with ECOWAS Director of 
Political Affairs Dr. Abdel Fatah-Musa to discuss events in 
Guinea-Bissau and ECOWAS' plans to stabilize the country. 
(FYI: Fatah-Musa has been a regular visitor to Bissau over 
many years as part of numerous ECOWAS delegations, and has 
been extensively involved in formulating and implementing 
ECOWAS' response to the crisis, precipitated by the March 
1-2, 2009, assassinations of Armed Forces Chief of Staff 
General Baptista Tagme Na Wai and President Joao Bernardo 
Vieira.  End FYI.)  Describing years of tension between the 
two men which stretch back to the 1980s, he said that when 
Vieira captured Na Wai during the 1998 civil war, Na Wai was 
castrated under Vieira's direct supervision.  Fatah-Musa said 
that Na Wai's men allegedly returned the favor after 
murdering Vieira in front of his wife -- not decapitating him 
as widely reported but instead removing his genitals in order 
to make a statement. (Comment: This contradicts what GON 
FonMin reported to Ambassador on March 8.  FonMin said 
Vieira's wife told him when he was in Guinea Bissau that she 
was sent for safety to the Angolan Embassy just prior to 
Vieira's killing (reftel).  However, we note that what 
Fatah-Musa told us is indicative (whether it is true or not) 
of the level of animosity between Vieira and Na Wai.  End 
Comment.)  When Vieira returned to power via the 2005 
elections, however, Na Wai's appointment as Chief of Staff 
was an unavoidable reality, as he was a senior member of 
Guinea-Bissau's single largest tribe, the Balantes, which are 
heavily overrepresented in the military.  Fatah-Musa 
described the bomb blast that killed Na Wai as a 
"narco-style" assassination method previously unknown in 
Guinea-Bissau but favored by drug traffickers, lending 
evidence to the depth of Vieira's involvement with them. 
 
ABUJA 00000590  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
(Note: In GON FonMin conversation with the Ambassador on 
March 8, the FonMin said he believed that narco-traffickers 
were involved in both assassinations.  End note.) 
 
----------------------------------- 
Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶3. (C) Fatah-Musa described ECOWAS' effort to mount a robust 
response to the crisis, but complained that it was being 
frustrated by Portuguese obstructionism.  After ECOWAS agreed 
with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado to convene an 
international contact group (ICG) meeting "as soon as 
possible" after the assassinations, he said that ECOWAS 
President Mohamed Ibn Chambas received a call from a "junior 
officer" of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry who said that 
Amado's busy schedule precluded his attendance at any meeting 
in the coming weeks.  Undaunted, Chambas attempted to convene 
a March 20 ICG meeting without Amado's participation, but in 
the end was forced to scuttle it after the Portuguese Foreign 
Ministry told other potential group members that it was "not 
safe" to meet in Bissau.  Fatah-Musa said Chambas wants the 
Portuguese to be edged out of the process, and wants instead 
to copy the steps taken in Guinea, giving ECOWAS and the 
African Union leading roles in resolving the crisis.  He 
believed looking to Portugal to take the lead in 
Guinea-Bissau, as the US has done in Liberia and the UK has 
done in Sierra Leone, was a waste of time.  Fatah-Musa also 
said that the UN had been discredited in the eyes of 
Guinea-Bissau's stakeholders, having ignored a request from 
Vieira after the November 2008 assassination attempt for 
international intervention to help stabilize the country and 
protect him.  (Note: Per reftel, Vieira also requested help 
from Nigeria. End Note.)  Fatah-Musa also commented that he 
believed that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was insulated 
from reality by his "Asian cronies," and as a result Africa 
was slipping downward on the UN's agenda. 
 
--------- 
What Next 
--------- 
 
¶4. (C) Fatah-Musa said that ECOWAS' goals in the coming 
months include partnering with the AU and UN to launch a full 
investigation of the events of the past months, to push for 
the punishment of the perpetrators of crime and mayhem, and 
to take steps to rein in the unchecked influence of 
narcotraffickers.  ECOWAS flatly rejects the approach by 
Portugal, which is to promote national reconciliation via a 
sort of amnesty that ignores the egregious wrongs of the past 
and present.  Guinea and Cape Verde will join Guinea-Bissau 
as the objects of ECOWAS' first attempts to implement its 
anti-narcotics plan, agreed upon in an October 2008 summit in 
Praia.  Fatah-Musa affirmed that elections most likely would 
take place on June 28, as reported in the press, and that 
ECOWAS was satisfied with this timetable.  He predicts that 
Prime Minister Carlos Gomes will easily win the poll, being a 
popular man in a field lacking viable candidates.  He said 
that of the $5 million needed to run fair and credible 
elections, only $900,000 has so far been pledged by the 
international community, but that does not include $500,000 
to come from ECOWAS' budget and a number of likely pledges by 
European countries. 
 
---------------------------- 
Tearing out the Rotten Plant 
---------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) SSR is Guinea-Bissau's biggest immediate need, 
 
ABUJA 00000590  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
Fatah-Musa said, as the present military was thoroughly 
rotten and needs to be torn out, "root and branch."  ECOWAS 
envisions an international deployment of soldiers and/or 
police that can maintain stability while the dicey work of 
stepping up new security forces continues.  Some of the 
military will need to be bought off, and others sent out of 
the country, and the inverted pyramid ratio of officers to 
men will need to be "right-sized."  He says he believes there 
should be a force of around 2000, but could offer few 
details; the modalities, he said, would be worked out at an 
April 20 meeting in Praia, to which the US would soon be 
invited to send representation.  A few things were clear 
however: of the countries reportedly considering sending 
troops (including West African neighbors, as well as Cuba, 
Brazil, and Angola), he believed some would not/not be 
welcome, particularly Senegal and Gambia, due to their 
governments' past meddling. 
 
-------------- 
The USG's Role 
-------------- 
 
¶6. (C) Fatah-Musa says ECOWAS hopes the USG will attend the 
April 20 conference as an observer, but also encourage that 
ECOWAS and the AU take the lead in finding a solution, rather 
than Portugal.  He also hopes that we will work to draw in 
the Spanish, who have shown a burgeoning interest in 
Guinea-Bissau due to the increasing amounts of illegal 
narcotics and illegal immigrants arriving on their shores 
from Bissau.  More importantly, he said ECOWAS is hoping for 
a USG role in the form of a significant contribution in 
support of the deployed ECOWAS-hoped for international force 
that will keep the lid on the chaos that could flourish 
during the SSR process outlined above -- such a contribution 
would preferably take the form of funding, but could also be 
in the forms of equipment and expertise, he said.  Poloff 
said he would pass along Fatah-Musa's views to Washington. 
 
¶7. (C) COMMENT: Poloff was stricly in a listening mode with 
Fatah-Musa.  However, ECOWAS' handling of the latest West 
African crises shows an organization that is continually 
trying to mature.  ECOWAS had a high-level delegation on the 
ground in Bissau on March 3 (reftel), just after the 
assassinations, which included Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo 
Maduekwe, Dr. Chambas, and Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh 
Gadio.  Coordination with international partners thus far has 
been assertive and largely productive.  Fatah-Musa, a 
Ghanaian, is also someone to watch.  He commands an 
intuitive, excellent grasp of regional politics, has an 
impressive resume, good contacts, and seems to entertain 
thoughts of political office in Ghana some day.  He said that 
had the recent election in Ghana not been handled in the way 
that it had, Dr. Chambas was considering returning to Ghana 
to run for the Presidency in the next election; Fatah-Musa's 
confident assertion to Poloff that he himself "could be a 
household name" in Ghana with little effort thinly masks his 
own ambitions or overconfidence.  END COMMENT. 
 
¶8. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos. 
SANDERS