Cape Verde president in landmark visit to Guinea-Bissau

Cape Verde’s President Jorge Carlos Fonseca is on a four-day tour of Guinea-Bissau, the first official visit by a leader of the West African archipelago nation to its former ally. 

Fonseca began his visit Monday acknowledging the  previously strained relations between the two former Portuguese colonies, but added that his trip marked a “new page”. 

Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau both fought Portuguese rule under the banner of the PAIGC party, before Guinea-Bissau — a poor country sandwiched between Senegal and Guinea — won independence in 1974.

Cape Verde, a 10-island state which lies around 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the coast of Senegal, became independent the following year. 

However, hopes of forming a federation between the two states were dashed in the years following independence, when the PAIGC split.

Cape Verde subsequently transitioned from a single-party state into a multi-party democracy during the early 1990s, becoming a model of stable government in Africa.

Guinea-Bissau, however, is notoriously unstable and has a long history of military coups.  

Fonseca said during the ceremony that history and culture tie the country’s two peoples together, and added that their new relationship must be founded on “mutual respect”. 

“One cannot understand … that there were not close and strong political and diplomatic relations between our two states,” he said. 

Both Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau have pledged to open embassies in the other country’s capitals.