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Ex-Guinea-Bissau speaker rejects presidency

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The leader who Guinea-Bissau's military rulers proposed to run a two-year transition to democracy has refused the offer, casting doubt on the country's roadmap toward elections.

Manuel Sherif Nhamadjo, who lost in a first-round presidential poll in March before a run-off was derailed by the coup, said late on Friday that he would remain in his current position of vice-president of the ruling PAIGC party.

"I was not consulted by for the post of president of the transition," he said, a day after the coup leaders nominated him to lead a National Transitional Council charged with organising elections sometime in 2014.

The African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS has rejected the military's two-year transition plan and urged a swift restoration of constitutional order, with ECOWAS condemning the military's nomination and calling it "illegal".

"The (ECOWAS) Commission wishes to reiterate its rejection of the usurpation of power by the military command, and to make it known that it will never recognise any transitional arrangement emanating from the junta," it said.

Written undertaking

On Thursday, the military ordered the re-opening of the country's borders, as well as its international airport and sea port, which were closed following the April 12 coup.

Thursday's statement by ECOWAS said: "[The] Commission has learnt with surprise the announced establishment of a so-called 'National Transitional Council' by the Military Command Junta and 24 political parties in Guinea-Bissau to govern the country for a two-year period."

The statement added the military had given a written undertaking after a meeting with a high-level ECOWAS delegation in Bissau, the capital, to step aside and pave the way for the immediate return to constitutional normality.

The delegation, made up of ministers and chiefs of staff, visited Bissau on Monday to meet those responsible for the coup.

"The Commission wishes to reiterate its rejection of the usurpation of power by the military command, and to make it known that it will never recognise any transitional arrangement emanating from the Junta," the statement said.

ECOWAS is due to hold an emergency summit next week to discuss the situation in Guinea-Bissau, it added.

The African Union suspended Guinea-Bissau following the coup.

Peacekeeping force

The World Bank and the African Development Bank have suspended millions of dollars of aid to Guinea-Bissau, raising pressure on the coup leaders to hand back power to civilians.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Portuguese-speaking nations called on the UN Security Council to back an international peacekeeping force for the country, which was colonised by Portugal.

Speaking on behalf of Portuguese speaking nations, Georges Chikoti, Angola's foreign minister, urged the UN Security Council to support a peacekeeping force and step up sanctions against the coup leaders.

"Time is of the essence. We cannot afford to wait and let the people, who are at the mercy of military power, suffer," Chikoti told a council meeting on Guinea-Bissau.

The Portuguese-speaking nations and ECOWAS are already discussing the makeup of a force, diplomats said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday it had brought medical supplies twice to Carlos Gomes Junior, Guinea-Bissau's diabetic former prime minister, since he was detained in last week's military coup.
 
Gomes Junior had been widely expected to win a presidential election runoff  that had been scheduled for April 29 until it was pre-empted by the coup.

He is being held alongside Raimundo Pereira, the interim president, by the ruling junta.

Since gaining independence in 1974, Guinea-Bissau's army and state have remained in constant conflict, and no president has completed a full term in office. Three have been overthrown and one assassinated.


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