ECOWAS warns army to stay out of Guinea Bissau crisis

Guinea-Bissau's President Jose Mario Vaz holds a press conference at the presidential palace in Abidjan on June 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou)

Bissau (AFP) - West African nations on Sunday warned the army to stay out of Guinea Bissau's consitutional crisis, saying only dialogue would end the standoff between its president and the premier he sacked.

The coup-plagued country has been in political turmoil since President Jose Mario Vaz fired Domingos Simoes Pereira on Wednesday over a series of disputes including the naming of a new army chief.

Senegal's President Macky Sall, who heads ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States which groups 15 countries, appealed for talks between the two men to end weeks of tension.

In a statement, he urged them "to continue to explore peaceful ways of resolving the impasse and the armed forces to respect their undertakings to stay out of politics".

On Saturday, the ruling PAIGC party renominated Pereira as prime minister just three days after he was sacked.

So far, Vaz has not reacted to the move.

The UN Security Council, which met over the unfolding crisis on Friday, also stressed that the army must stay out of it.

A 2012 military coup threw Guinea-Bissau into chaos and it has barely begun to recover following last year's election.

Vaz said his dispute with the premier stemmed partly from the appointment of a new armed forces chief, a key post in the small nation known as a hub in drug trafficking between South America and Europe.

In a unanimous statement, the 15-member UN Security Council urged all sides to "resolve the ongoing political dispute in the interest of peace in Guinea-Bissau."

Council members "underscored the importance of the non-interference of security forces in the political situation."