ICRC Meets With Guinea-Bissau President, Former PM Held by Junta

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross has visited Guinea-Bissau's interim president and leading presidential candidate, who were arrested during a military coup last week.

A spokesman for the aid group told VOA Thursday that “at first sight the two detainees looked in good condition.”

Marie-Servane Desjonquères said a Red Cross delegate visited with President Raimundo Pereira and former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior on Wednesday. She did not say where the men are being held.

Desjonquères said that during an earlier ICRC visit on April 14, Mr. Gomes was given diabetes medicine and during the April 18 meeting he was given a diabetes test.

The aid group said it also provided the men with clothing, hygiene items and the opportunity to write notes to their families.

Mr. Pereira and Mr. Gomes were taken into custody as military chiefs seized power in Guinea-Bissau a week ago. The junta has not said why the two men are being held but has said they will be “investigated” by proper authorities.

The coup took place as presidential candidates were set to begin campaigning for a run-off election that was to held on April 29.

Mr. Gomes won the first round of voting and appeared to have a comfortable lead in the run-off against former president Kumba Yala, who has strong ties to the military.

Guinea-Bissau was electing a new president to replace President Malam Bacai Sanha, who died after a long illness in January. Mr. Pereira was appointed interim president until voters elected a new leader.

The international community has roundly condemned the coup and called for a return to civilian rule.

Since winning independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has struggled through a dictatorship, four coups and the 2009 assassination of a president. It has also become a transit point for international drug traffickers.