News24

Guinea-Bissau junta frees PM, president

2012-04-28 08:01

Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's coup leaders released the country's ousted prime minister and interim president on Friday after more than two weeks of captivity, allowing the former leaders to travel to Ivory Coast.

The generals now in charge of the small, unstable west African country also pledged a one-year transition back to democracy, a day after regional bloc Ecowas decided to send hundreds of troops to the country.

Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, has a history of coups and other political violence and has in recent years become a major cocaine trafficking hub between South America and Europe.

The military launched the latest coup on April 12, in the middle of a two-round presidential election in which outgoing prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior was the frontrunner and the opposition claimed fraud.

Troops then attacked Gomes' residence with rocket-propelled grenades and detained him, along with interim president Raimundo Pereira, in a power grab that sparked regional and international condemnation.

On Thursday, a summit of the Economic Community of West African States or Ecowas gave the junta 72 hours to agree to a return to constitutional order and to allow in 500 to 600 troops or face targeted sanctions.

The 15-member bloc, which also condemned a coup in Mali, told both countries to restore democracy and hold elections within a year.