Guinea-Bissau candidates condemn coup

2012-04-16 18:46

Bissau - Five candidates who took part in Guinea-Bissau's aborted presidential election, including top opposition leader Kumba Yala, on Monday condemned last week's military coup.

"We firmly condemn the April 12 military uprising and demand the quick return of constitutional order," said ex-president Yala, who came second in first-round presidential voting on March 18 behind then-prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who is currently being held by the coup leaders.

All five rejected the result of the first round, including Henrique Rosa, who said none of them would participate in the National Transitional Council that the military and some opposition parties announced would lead the country after the coup.

"We are democrats. As a matter of ethics and political coherence, we will not participate in the NTC," Rosa told journalists.

The coup came two weeks before the second round of the presidential vote, which would have seen Gomes Junior face off against Yala.

Yala, who said there had been "massive fraud" in the first round, and four other candidates had already said they would not take part in the second round.

The boycott had raised fears of unrest in the country of 1.6 million people, which has a history of military coups and has become a hub in the drug trade between South America and Europe.

The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) had voiced concern after the coup that the five candidates who boycotted the polls may have played a part in overthrowing the government, saying they should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court if their involvement could be proved.

Yala rejected that allegation on Monday.

"We are shocked by [the coup] and equally shocked by the violence of the statement released by the presidency of the CPLP on the events of April 12, and above all by the link they drew between the five candidates and the military uprising," he told the press conference.

The statement came after Guinea-Bissau's new junta accepted an offer from East Timor's outgoing president, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jose Ramos-Horta, to act as a mediator in the crisis, according to his advisor.