West Africa calls for world backing as president sworn in
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
BISSAU-- West African leaders are urging quick international assistance for Guinea-Bissau, whose new president Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira was sworn in this weekend facing a massive cholera epidemic and fears of continuing political instability.
"Donors must help Bissau now, and without conditions," Senegal's Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio told reporters on Monday.
And a one-day summit of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) wound up in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Friday with a "call on the international community to fulfill its commitment to extend financial, technical and material assistance to Guinea Bissau."
But of the 17 heads of state invited to attend Vieira's ceremonial swearing-in, none was in attendance. As heavily-armed soldiers patrolled the streets, many of the country's leading politicians too stayed home, raising fears of a return to years of instability.
Vieira, a former military ruler with a history as an independence fighter against Portuguese rule, won 52 percent of the vote in the 24 July presidential election. In his inaugural speech, he also issued a plea for assistance in fighting the devastating cholera outbreak currently ravaging the tiny country, which has affected more than one percent of its 1.3 million people in less than four months.