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Bissau politician rejects junta job offer

By | April 21st 2012

The man that Guinea-Bissau's military rulers chose to run a two-year transition back to democracy has refused the offer, casting further doubt on the junta's internationally criticized roadmap to 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 April 20 he would remain in his current post 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 junta nominated him to lead a National Transitional Council charged with organizing elections sometime in 2014.

The African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS have rejected the junta's two-year transition plan and urged a swift restoration of constitutional order, with ECOWAS calling the move by the junta 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 recognize any transitional arrangement emanating from the junta," it said.

Soldiers derailed Guinea Bissau's presidential elections on April 12 by detaining the front-runner in an upcoming run-off, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, after attacking his residence in the capital with heavy weapons.

Thousands of residents of Bissau have fled for the interior of the country or to its offshore islands due to security concerns since the coup.

The tiny country has been plagued by army uprisings since independence from Portugal in 1974, and this latest one has been a setback to Western efforts to reform the bloated and indisciplined military and to counter drugs cartels using the country as a transhipment point to Europe.

It has also worsened the lives of people in a country where the average person lives on less than $2 a day.

"The situation in the country right now has complicated things for an already very poor people," Amadou Diallo, a 32-year-old mason in Bissau said. "Half the population of Bissau has left because of this."


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