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Guy: News of the World
Monday November 2, 1998
4:33 PM EDT
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
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
soldiers before a democratic solution is put into operation,'' he
told private radio.