West African Bloc to Mediate Guinea-Bissau Coup Crisis

Posted April 15th, 2012 at 8:10 pm (UTC-5)
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West African regional bloc ECOWAS is sending a military delegation to Guinea-Bissau Monday in a bid to help resolve the country's political crisis.

The international community, in Africa and elsewhere, has strongly condemned last week's military coup and called for a return to civilian rule.

In a statement Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated that he is monitoring the situation closely and is mobilizing pressure to restore stability and political order.

Guinea-Bissau political parties have been in tense negotiations for several days with the coup leaders. A spokesman for the parties, Fernando Vaz, said there will be a solution by Monday.

The power grab on Thursday disrupted campaigning for a presidential runoff vote in the unstable West African country 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.

The military junta seized Mr. Gomes and interim president Raimundo Pereira at their homes. Their whereabouts remained unknown on Sunday.

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

The upcoming election was planned to replace 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.