Guinea-Bissau Opposition Under Pressure to Resolve Coup Crisis

Posted April 15th, 2012 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Guinea-Bissau opposition parties met with coup leaders for a third straight day on Sunday, in a tense bid to resolve a political crisis that began when the military junta seized power last week.

Coup leaders ordered the political parties to meet on a deal to form a so-called “unity government.”

A spokesman for the opposition parties, Fernando Vaz, said there will be a solution by Monday.

A military delegation of the Economic Community of West African States is due in Bissau on Monday to help mediate the crisis. The bloc wields great influence as it oversees the flow of the region's common currency.

Political parties in Guinea-Bissau have said they prefer a political solution based on the country's constitution. They earlier rejected a proposal by the junta to form an interim government pending new elections.

The power grab on Thursday disrupted a campaigning for a presidential run-off vote that had been set for April 29.

Former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who is a member of the ruling party, had a comfortable lead against challenger Kumba Yala, a former president who has had close ties to the military.

During last week's coup, the military seized Mr. Gomes and interim president Raimundo Pereira at their homes. Their whereabouts remained unknown on Sunday.

The international community has strongly condemned the military coup in the unstable West African country and called for a return to civilian rule.

The presidential candidates are in a race to replace the late president Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January following a long illness.

Since winning independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has struggled through a dictatorship, three coups and the assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieira by renegade soldiers in 2009. The country also is known as a conduit for traffickers shipping drugs to Europe.