Guinea-Bissau - Foreign policy

In the early going, it appeared that President Yala would enjoy considerable international support. Local and foreign dignitaries, including the presidents of Cape Verde and The Gambia, as well as the Portuguese foreign minister, attended his inaugural ceremony. Former president Vieira, in exile, congratulated him by letter. The international community has continued to back him in hopes that he will not squander present and future opportunities to lead the country to economic recovery and to democratic rule. His performance over the last two years, however, has seriously eroded their confidence in the capacity of a Yala-led government. Portugal is likely to assume the caretaker mantle for the international community and to work most closely with Yala.

Guinea-Bissau traditionally has maintained its closest relations with Portugal, for better and for worse. Since joining the West African Monetary Union (WAMU/UEMOA) and becoming part of the CFA zone in March 1997, the French connection has become more important. Under Mané, however, France was accused of supporting Vieira and its embassy was looted and burned. Nevertheless, relations improved and the French ambassador was the only foreign representative at the Yala government's inauguration. Under Vieira, ties were established with Taiwan and Morocco.

Yala has restored good relations with Senegal owing to Yala's support of the Senegalese government's fight against separatist rebels in the Casamance region. The sporadic attacks along the northern border, however, have destabilized trade, and the risk of dragging Guinea-Bissau deeper into this long-festering conflict has increased.

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