Guinea-Bissau junta agrees to 12-month transition
The troops who seized power this month in the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau said Friday they agreed to a 12-month transition period mooted by the west African regional bloc ECOWAS.
The junta, which initially proposed a two-year transition, has also agreed to free detained leaders, their spokesman Daba Na Walna said.
Guinea-Bissau’s former interim president Raimundo Pereira and former prime minister Carlos Gomes Jr., who had been held since the April 12 coup, arrived in Abidjan late Friday.
They were welcomed at Abidjan airport by Ivory Coast’s Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and African Integration Minister Adama Bictogo, an AFP reporter said.
Pereira thanked Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, current head of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, for his role in their liberation. Ivory Coast “is also our country”, he said, without further comment.
Bictogo called their liberation “a good sign” but it was not immediately known how long the two would stay in Abidjan.
“We want to believe that the junta is well disposed to negotiate a return to the constitutional order,” he said.
Pereira and Gomes were also due to meet with Ouattara.
The president has pledged a firm response to the instability “to prevent our sub-region from giving into terrorism and transnational criminality”.
The announcements came shortly after a team of West African leaders left Guinea-Bissau after several hours of closed-door talks with their counterpart Antonio Indjai, who is widely thought to have masterminded the coup.
Spokesman Na Walna sought to downplay regional concerns, saying the “return to civilian rule is on track”, and adding: “The right place for soldiers are the barracks.”
The future transition government “will be a government of technocrats and neutral personalities who will have to oversee a transition period of 12 months”, he added.
ECOWAS on Thursday decided to send troops to Guinea-Bissau, an impoverished former Portuguese colony and Mali, where disgruntled soldiers also staged a coup.
The coup aborted the first round of a presidential election.