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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

GUINEA-BISSAU: Civilian leader to head interim administration

BISSAU, 29 September 2003 (IRIN) - The military junta that seized power in Guinea-Bissau on 14 September have sworn in businessman Henrique Rosa at a hotel in the capital, Bissau, to lead an interim civilian administration until fresh presidential elections can be held within one year.

Before swearing in Henrique Rosa late on Sunday, the junta signed an agreement along with 22 other political and civil society groups, setting up a 56-member National Transition Council to serve in place of a parliament until legislative elections are held after six months.

Henrique Rosa was head of the National Electoral Commission during Guinea-Bissau's first multi-party elections in 1994. He is expected to work with Antonio Artur Sanha as prime minister.

The new prime minister is however required to resign his party post before he can be sworn into office.

Apart from endorsing the new interim head of state, the agreement also set up a military committee and other government structures to administer the West African country. It granted a blanket amnesty to those involved in the recent coup.

General Verissimo Seabra Correia, the armed forces chief of staff who led the coup to topple former President Kumba Yala, however remained chairman of the transition council. The 25-members of the military committee are also part of the council along with 23 party and eight civil society representatives.

General Correia, who has promised to take his men back to barracks, told the new president after the swearing in: "The task awaiting you will not be easy, but you can count on our support."

The transition council is expected to supervise the head of state and the National Electoral Commission as it prepares to organise parliamentary and presidential elections.

The agreement excludes the new interim president and his ministers from standing for the upcoming elections. It also bars Yala from contesting elections for five years from 17 September when he accepted to resign from government.

The agreement was drawn up following consultations led by Jose Camnate Na Bissign, the Roman Catholic bishop of Bissau, who was picked by the military junta after it seized power to help in setting up an interim government.

The military junta toppled Yala who was elected with a strong majority in early 2000 but soon alienated most of his former supporters. Yala's government became increasingly erratic and his overthrow was greeted with widespread relief at home.

Last year, he dissolved parliament after it passed a vote of no confidence in his rule and then delayed four times the holding of fresh legislative elections. Yala also engaged in endless cabinet reshuffles and his bankrupt government owed soldiers, civil servants, teachers and hospital workers several months of pay arrears.


Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance



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