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Guinea-Bissau Coup Leaders Announce Transitional Council

April 16, 2012

Anne Look | Dakar

In Guinea Bissau, opposition politicians are expected to announce the leaders of a new transitional government, which will reserve a prominent role for the military personnel who seized control of the country last week. The regional bloc ECOWAS has solidly condemned the coup and is sending a delegation to Guinea-Bissau to call for a return to constitutional order.

The soldiers who seized power in Guinea-Bissau say they are putting together a unity government with various opposition parties. This so-called National Transition Council excludes the ruling party that the soldiers ousted.

    Guinea-Bissau Elections

  • Guinea-Bissau wins independence from Portugal in 1974.
  • Luis Cabral becomes president in 1974 and is ousted in a 1980 coup led by armed forces chief Joao Bernardo Vieira.
  • Vieira clings to power despite alleged coup attempts and is elected president in 1994 multi-party polls.
  • Guinea-Bissau plunges into a bloody civil war in 1998 after an army uprising.
  • Military junta ousts Vieira in 1999; opposition leader Kumba Yala is elected president in 2000.
  • President Yala is ousted in bloody military coup in 2003; Businessman Henrique Rosa is sworn in as president.
  • Joao Bernardo Vieira wins 2005 presidential vote and is killed by soldiers in the presidential palace in 2009.
  • Malam Bacai Sanha is elected president and while hospitalized in 2011 a military struggle and attempted coup take place.
  • President Sanha dies in January 2012 after a long illness; National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira becomes acting president.

Politicinas will propose an interim president and prime minister, but the military will have final say on the posts. The military also will control the interior and defense ministries. This transitional government is expected to last one to two years.

Thursday's coup derailed the scheduled presidential run-off election. Soldiers arrested the frontrunner candidate, former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, and interim President Raymond Pereira. Coup leaders said the two men had conspired with Angola to attack Guinea-Bissau's military.

Gomes was set to face former president, Kumba Yala, in the April 29th vote. However, Yala had planned to boycott the vote, alleging that the first round was rigged.

Yala held a a press conference in the capital Monday to say he would not take part in any transitional government. He condemned the coup, but said the blame lies with the previous government for its aggressive approach to the military.

The coup has met with widespread international condemnation. In return, the military has closed the nation's air and sea borders and threatened to respond with force to any violations.

However, a delegation from regional bloc ECOWAS is still scheduled to arrive Monday for talks with political and military leaders.
The ECOWAS external relations director, Abdel-Fatau Musah, says a weak political class and meddling military are to blame for chronic instability.

“The military there are bent on keeping that country as a failed state for their interest, and as long as that situation continues in Guinea-Bissau, the peace and security environment in the region and indeed, international security is also endangered,” said Musah.

Guinea-Bissau is one of West Africa's smallest, yet most unstable, countries. It is plagued by rampant drug trafficking and repeated coups, mutinies and political assassinations. No elected president has ever finished his term.

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