Guinea-Bissau army sets out terms after coup

2012-04-14 10:23
Bissau - Leaders of Guinea-Bissau's military coup have set out terms for a "unity government", amid growing international condemnation of their seizure of the capital halfway through a presidential election.

The coup leaders announced on Friday that the prime minister, interim president and army chief-of-staff general had all been deposed hours after the coup attempt was launched late Thursday.

They also imposed an overnight curfew, called on members of the toppled government to surrender to the army command and confirmed that private radio stations had been shut down.

The UN Security Council condemned the military action and urged "the immediate restoration of civilian authority", US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after council talks on Friday.

The United States, Canada and Nigeria were among others joining the chorus of condemnation of the military coup.

"We call for the release of all government leaders and urge all parties to reconcile their differences through the democratic process," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

Washington also issued a travel warning for Guinea-Bissau, urging American citizens "to shelter in place and avoid the downtown area of Bissau."

The African Union's commission chief Jean Ping condemned the "outrageous acts which undermine the efforts to stabilise the situation in Guinea-Bissau and tarnish the image of the country and Africa."

Guinea-Bissau army chiefs had earlier met leaders of the political parties, telling them to consider what they called "a government of national unity" in which the coup leaders would control the defence and interior ministries.

"The soldiers told us... to think about a government of national unity and its composition," one party leader, who requested anonymity, told AFP after the closed-door meeting at the former military headquarters in the southern suburbs of Bissau, which lasted for more than a hour.

The chief-of-staff General Antonio Indjai was among those who attended, though it was later announced that he had been stripped of his post.

Also present were the deputy chief-of-staff, General Mamadu Ture Kuruma; the heads of the army, air force and navy; the army's spokesperson and four colonels.

The main political parties were represented at the meeting, except that there was nobody from what was, until Thursday night, the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

Deposed prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, the favourite in a second-round presidential election set for this month, was seized in a military assault on his home using rocket-propelled grenades on Thursday evening.

The military also captured interim president Raimundo Pereira.

"The army confirms it has deposed the interim president Raimundo Pereira, the prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior and the army chief-of-staff General Antonio Indjai," said Friday's statement from the ruling "military command".

"The three are safe and sound and are under the control of the army," it added.

Indjai himself seized the post from his predecessor Jose Zamora Induta in an army mutiny in June 2010. At the time he was serving as his deputy.

Gomes had garnered 49 percent of the vote in the first round of the election on March 18 and campaigning for the second round was supposed to start Friday.

Read more on:    carlos gomes junior  |  raimundo pereira  |  guinea-bissau  |  west africa  |  coup

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