ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau ends mandate

After four years of military presence in the smallest West African country, the 600-strong ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) will end its mandate on 30 June 2016. The ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff (CCDS) gathered on 23 March in Abuja to conceive a comprehensive exit strategy. The group commended the troops for their effective performance. The situation in Guinea-Bissau remains nevertheless fragile; the military chiefs underscored the generally precarious security situation in the region, recalling the recent terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. According to an ECOWAS press release, the CCDS is now working on a “common strategy for the various member states to fight against terrorism and reflect on future actions that will be carried out by the ECOWAS Standby Force in order to fight against terrorist attacks”. The strategy will also focus on information exchange and experience sharing. ECOMIB was widely perceived as having served as an effective deterrent to political interference by the Guinea-Bissau armed forces. It was entirely funded by ECOWAS. At a donors’ conference in March 2015, development partners pledged USD 1.2 billion to support Guinea-Bissau’s development agenda, but due to the continued unstable political situation, the disbursement of these funds is making very slow progress.