Regional bloc ECOWAS near deal with Bissau junta


The executive head of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS said that a junta in Guinea Bissau has agreed to hand back power and return the country to constitutional rule soon, after talks in the capital.

Soldiers in Guinea Bissau, who have a reputation of meddling in the country’s politics, seized power on Thursday and detained the country’s interim president and a former prime minister, cutting short an unfinished presidential election.
“After in-depth discussions, we agreed on the fact that the military accept the decision of ECOWAS to return to constitutional order,” Desire Kadre Ouedraogo, president of the ECOWAS commission, told journalists after the meeting, Reuters reports.

Ouedraogo said Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who chairs the regional bloc, will take steps with other parties, to return the country to constitutional rule in the coming days, but gave no specific timeline.

ECOWAS insisted in the meeting with the junta that the freeing of the two officials detained during the coup, was an essential step towards a return to constitutional order, Ouedraogo said.

The junta did not comment after the meeting.

Soldiers detained ex-premier and presidential front-runner Carlos Gomes Junior and interim President Raimundo Pereira following assaults on their homes on Thursday evening.

Gomes Junior came close to winning an outright majority in a first-round presidential vote last month and a second-round run-off had been set for April 29.