AU Suspends Guinea-Bissau

Posted April 17th, 2012 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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The African Union has suspended Guinea-Bissau, following last week's coup by the military.

The AU Peace and Security Council said Tuesday that Guinea-Bissau is suspended from all AU activities until the return of constitutional order in the West African country.

In a statement, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping rejected efforts by coup leaders to set up a transitional national council.

He said the coup leaders are violating the constitution, and urged Guinea-Bissau politicians to avoid involvement in what he called window dressing for the takeover.

He also said the coup leaders are trying to arbitrarily halt an ongoing election process.

A runoff election was planned at the end of this month to replace the late president, Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January after a long illness.

Earlier Tuesday, the regional bloc ECOWAS said the coup leaders have accepted its demand to restore constitutional order, following talks between the two sides. There has been no comment from the junta.

ECOWAS Commission President Desire Kadre Ouedraogo said the bloc also demanded the release of prisoners.

Soldiers detained interim President Raimundo Pereira and former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior as the military seized power last Thursday.

Mr. Gomes was the frontrunning candidate in the presidential run-off that was scheduled for April 29. His opponent, Kumba Yala, is a former president who has had close ties to the military.

Mr. Gomes won the first-round vote but fell short of the majority required for outright victory.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “grave concern” over the crisis in Guinea-Bissau.

The country has endured decades of instability marked by numerous coups and coup attempts and the assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieria in 2009 by renegade soldiers. Guinea-Bissau has also become a transit point for international drug traffickers.