Guinea-Bissau’s Military Junta Dissolves Government

Posted April 18th, 2012 at 7:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Guinea-Bissau's military junta has formally dissolved the government and says it will hand power back to civilians after a two-year transitional period.

The deal reached Wednesday between the junta and several opposition parties includes the creation of a transitional council that will soon name an interim president and caretaker government. The plan was not signed by Guinea-Bissau's largest political party, PAIGC.

A spokesman for the junta, Lieutenant Colonel Dahba Na Walma, told VOA earlier that the junta plans to present the agreement to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The agreement defies international condemnation of the junta's seizure of power last week which cut short an ongoing election.

The African Union suspended Guinea-Bissau's membership on Tuesday, and together with ECOWAS rejected the coup and are demanding the junta release interim President Raimundo Pereira and former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior. Gomes was the leading candidate in a presidential runoff vote that was scheduled for April 29.

Na Walma said the two leaders will remain in custody until a new government is formed and what he called “proper security conditions” are in place.

International rights group Amnesty International says the junta is restricting media and protesters in an attempt to “stifle mounting criticism” within the country and abroad. They have also voiced concerns about the conditions at the site where the two leaders are being held, about 60 kilometers north of the capital, Bissau.

Leaders from ECOWAS met with junta chiefs Monday in Bissau. Na Walma said the group agreed to send a technical team to help with the transition back to civilian rule.

The runoff election was to replace the late president, Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January after a long illness.

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