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W Africa mediators in G-Bissau crisis talks

2012-05-11 08:57

Bissau - West African mediators entered crisis talks with Guinea-Bissau's former governing party Thursday to mediate a return to civil rule after a military junta deposed the government last month.

Mediators of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), led by Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru, were to meet with junta leaders after their talks with the long-dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

Ivory Coast's junior defence minister Koffi Koffi Paul and Nigeria's and Ivory Coast's military leaders were also part of the Ecowas delegation.

The group was also to have talks with members of the 23-party opposition who back the 12 April coup and leading figures of civil society.

At the end of the talks, "we absolutely must have results to resolve this crisis", said Ashiru.

He added that the fact that salaries had not been paid at the end of last month were another reason "to do everything to reach a settlement, but this settlement can only come from Guinea-Bissau".

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who heads the Guinea-Bissau contact group, announced on Wednesday that Ecowas mediators would travel to the tiny west African country by Friday for talks on a democratic transition and the dispatch of a regional peace-keeping force.

Ecowas is also pressing the junta to accept a deal under which a transitional government would organise elections in 12 months.

It warned on Monday that civil war could erupt in Guinea-Bissau if the international community forces the junta to hand back power to the government it deposed last month.

Since rebel soldiers carried out Guinea Bissau's fourth coup in 14 years, Ecowas, the European Union and Community of Portuguese Language Countries have all imposed sanctions.