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Guinea-Bissau Peace Accord

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Monday November 2, 1998

4:33 PM EDT

Source: Yahoo!/Reuters news story

Vieira Sees Accord As Victory For Guinea Bissau

 

BANJUL (Reuters) - Guinea-Bissau embattled President Joao Bernardo Vieira and rebel leader

Ansumane Mane flew together into the Gambian capital Banjul Monday after signing a peace

accord to end their civil war.

 

Vieira, speaking to reporters before heading for Bissau aboard a French military helicopter, said:

``The Abuja peace agreement is a victory for my people and I hope a definitive end to the conflict

has now been achieved and will be honored.''

 

Mane, who is expected to head Tuesday for Guinea-Bissau where his forces are largely in

control, remained silent.

 

The two leaders returned with Gambian President Yahya Jammeh who had taken them late last

week to the Nigerian capital Abuja where they signed the accord after intense efforts by regional

heads of state.

 

Under the agreement, a cease-fire will be maintained, foreign troops -- of Senegal and

Guinea-Conakry supporting Vieira -- will pull out and be replaced by a regional peacekeeping

force, and elections will be held by the end of March.

 

Vieira said it was too early for him to say whether he would be a candidate in the presidential

elections.

 

Earlier Monday, Guinea-Bissau's former colonial power Portugal welcomed the agreement to

end the civil war.

 

Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, who brought the two war foes together to start peace

talks last week, told state Portuguese television in Lisbon: ``We are very happy...We will do

everything possible to help consolidate the peace.''

 

Civil war started in Guinea-Bissau in June after Vieira sacked Mane as army chief over

allegations that senior officers were smuggling arms across the border to separatists in the

southern Casamance province of Senegal.

 

Senegal and Guinea-Conakry sent troops to support Vieira.

 

On Monday, the chairman of Senegal's parliamentary defense committee, MBaye Jacques Diop,

said the Abuja agreement would safeguard Senegal's interests.

 

Madior Diouf, a leading opposition figure, welcomed the accord but said both its military and

political elements must be implemented.

 

``It would be dangerous to demand the withdrawal of Senegalese and (Conakry) Guinean

soldiers before a democratic solution is put into operation,'' he told private radio.