Guinea-Bissau Leaders Locked in Talks at ECOWAS Summit

November 1, 1998
ABUJA The leaders of the two warring sides in Guinea-Bissau were locked in talks early Saturday, aiming to reach agreement to end a five-month conflict by the close of a West African leaders' summit here. President Joao Bernado Vieira and his rival, General Ansumane Mane, accompanied from Banjul by Gambian President Yayah Jammeh, flew into Abuja late Friday and were met at the airport by Nigerian head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar. The two went straight into talks with West African leaders at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit here.

Diplomatic sources said that much of the basis of an agreement had been found but that the sticking point remained the rebel leader's demand that Senegalese troops who have been supporting Vieira leave the country. The rebels had not agreed by the early hours to a proposal that ECOWAS send in replacement troops, the sources said. Bringing the two men to Abuja signalled the determination of the Nigerian leader to see an end to a conflict he said had set back regional efforts at building peace in West Africa. The two-day summit is expected to be dominated by the conflicts in Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone and the signing of a draft treaty setting up a permanent peacekeeping mechanism for the region.

Visiting South African President Nelson Mandela briefly addressed the summit Friday, urging more regional cooperation in Africa and a negotiated end to conflicts wracking the continent. (AFP)