April 10, 2012 / 5:48 AM / 8 years ago

Angola to end military reform aid in Guinea Bissau

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola is ending its military mission to help modernise the army in Guinea Bissau as a result of requests from unnamed “sectors” in the country, Portuguese news agency Lusa quoted Angola’s foreign minister as saying on Monday.

Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos waves as he leaves Sao Bento Palace after a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates in Lisbon March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Hugo Correia

The mission, agreed in 2010, was designed to help end the military coups that have plagued the tiny west African state since both countries won independence from colonial power Portugal in the mid-1970s.

“Guinea Bissau asked for help from Angola and we gave a good-hearted response, but if this help is doing damage to some people then it is not matching (its goals),” Lusa quoted Angolan Foreign Minister Georges Chicoty as saying in Bissau.

Lusa added Chicoty, speaking at the end of a half-day trip to Bissau during which he met interim President Raimundo Pereira, said the decision to end the mission had followed requests from “some sectors in Guinea Bissau”.

“The cooperation programme had various aspects and in our view was satisfactory until now ... naturally, if it does not all satisfy then naturally Angola cannot impose itself,” he added.

The mission, officially launched in March last year, included the deployment of around 200 Angolan military and police personnel and aid of $30 million to be spent on infrastructure, equipment and training projects.

Lusa earlier on Monday quoted a spokesman for Guinea-Bissau’s army as saying the armed forces command had not asked for the mission to be terminated.

Guinea Bissau is currently in the middle of two rounds of voting to elect a new president to replace Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in a Paris hospital in January after a long illness.

Former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who fell just short of an outright majority in the first round, is meant to face Kumba Yala in the run-off on April 22, but Yala and four other candidates have said they will boycott the vote in protest over alleged first-round rigging.

Angola’s $500 million plan to build a bauxite mine and deepwater port in Guinea Bissau has stalled due to an uncertain political and security environment in the country, an adviser to the Guinea Bissau government said last month.

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