11th May, 2012
Guinea-Bissau coup leaders and west African mediators agreed Friday that parliamentary speaker Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo will lead a transition government, ruling out the return of the toppled team.
The Nigerian official leading the West African mediation effort said there was no chance the former government would be restored.
There “is no question of the return” of former prime minister Carlos Gomes and former interim president Raimundo Pereira, who were ousted on April 12, said Nurudeen Mohammad, Nigeria’s state minister for foreign affairs.
“We have taken the decision which is the will of the majority of parties. The president of the National Assembly will lead the transition,” he explained.
Mohammad is leading an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation which arrived in Bissau on Thursday and engaged in long discussions with the junta, political parties and civil society.
At the end of April the junta named Nhamadjo interim leader, but he refused, saying his nomination was not legal.
However with the blessing of ECOWAS, he has now accepted.
“I will continue to work to find a consensus on the prime minister who will be tasked with forming a transition government. I know it won’t be an easy task but we will all buckle down,” he said.
The ousted ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) rejected the decision outright, which one of its leaders, Augusto Olivais, said was “unconstitutional.”
“We will not recognise a president who has not been democratically elected,” he said.
Since independence from Portugal in 1974, the military and state in the west African nation have been in constant competition, leading to countless coups, political assassinations and chronic instability which has allowed cocaine trafficking to flourish.
The latest coup aborted an election process, in which Gomes was the favourite to win, and came as soldiers felt threatened by government’s growing reliance on several hundred Angolan troops in the country.
Gomes and Pereira have taken refuge in Ivory Coast since their arrest and subsequent release by the junta.
The new transition leader Nhamadjo, came third in a first round of voting in a presidential election with 15.75 percent of the votes. Gomes was first with 49 percent and was expected to win in a run-off on April 29.
The ECOWAS delegation did not mention the withdrawal of 600 Angolan troops, nor their replacement by a regional stabilisation force previously decided upon by the 15-nation bloc.
However junta spokesman Daba Na Walna told AFP this plan was still in force.
“I have in my hands a letter from the Angolan government adressed to the ECOWAS president (Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara) on the withdrawal of the Angolan contingent,” Na Walna said.
“Once the first ECOWAS contingent is in place, the Angolans will withdraw.”
Angola’s Minister of Economic Cooperation Manuel Vicente said Thursday in Luanda that the troops could stay in Guinea-Bissau at the request of the international community.