In January 1998, troops of the Bissau-Guinean armed forces discovered that some of their colleagues had been covertly supplying the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance, MFDC) with arms and munitions to support their campaign for independence from Senegal. Under pressure from the governments of Senegal and France to identify the culprits, the president of Guinea-Bissau placed the blame on his Chief of Staff, who was subsequently removed from his position despite his remonstrations of innocence. After failing to assassinate the president, the disgraced head of the military gathered significant portions of the army along with an array of opposition groups behind him and launched a coup d’état in May 1998.1 The rebels quickly established control of much of the country but faced resistance from elements of the armed forces that remained loyal to the president. In June, Senegal and Guinea dispatched a total of 1,700 troops to support the embattled administration, leading to heavy fighting across the country and sparking the conflict known as the Seventh of June War.
The international effort to mediate an end to the conflict began on 26 July 1998, when the CPLP negotiated a temporary truce between the belligerents. This was followed by talks hosted by the CPLP and ECOWAS in nearby Cape Verde, which culminated at the end of August with a ceasefire. Talks continued in Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, and Nigeria, with the belligerents eventually signing the Abuja Peace Agreement on 1 November.2 A key provision of the agreement was the withdrawal of Senegalese and Guinean troops and the deployment of an ECOWAS peacekeeping force. The peace process was dealt a major blow in January 1999 when the fighting resumed, but a fresh ceasefire was signed on 9 February, this time bringing an end to fighting. The ECOWAS mission remained in place for a few months until all Senegalese and Guinean troops had withdrawn, but it was a relatively short-lived deployment. Although the November 1999 elections went ahead relatively peacefully and re-established constitutional rule in Guinea-Bissau, the country continued to be plagued by frequent coups d’état in the years (and decades) following the conflict.3 The mediation efforts of the CPLP and ECOWAS ended the Seventh of June War, but Guinea-Bissau remained highly unstable following the conflict.