G.Bissau junta frees PM, president seized in coup

Guinea-Bissau's coup leaders released the country's ousted prime minister and interim president after more than two weeks of captivity, allowing the former leaders to travel to Ivory Coast.

The generals now in charge of the small, unstable west African country also pledged a one-year transition back to democracy, a day after regional bloc ECOWAS decided to send hundreds of troops to the country.

Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, has a history of coups and other political violence and has in recent years become a major cocaine trafficking hub between South America and Europe.

The military launched the latest coup on April 12, in the middle of a two-round presidential election in which outgoing prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior was the frontrunner and the opposition claimed fraud.

Troops then attacked Gomes' residence with rocket-propelled grenades and detained him, along with interim president Raimundo Pereira, in a power grab that sparked regional and international condemnation.

On Thursday, a summit of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS gave the junta 72 hours to agree to a return to constitutional order and to allow in 500 to 600 troops or face targeted sanctions.

The 15-member bloc, which also condemned a coup in Mali, told both countries to restore democracy and hold elections within a year.

France on Friday welcomed the ECOWAS move and said it was ready to help.

"It was a very good decision," said Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, adding that Paris could give "logistical, material or intelligence support".

On Friday the junta in Guinea-Bissau agreed to a 12-month transition period, having earlier proposed a period twice that long, and agreed to free the detained leaders, military spokesman Daba Na Walna said.

Gomes and Pereira were later welcomed at Abidjan airport by Ivory Coast's Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and the African Integration Minister Adama Bictogo, an AFP reporter said.

Pereira thanked Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, current head of ECOWAS, for his role in their liberation, saying that Ivory Coast "is also our country", without further comment.

Bictogo called their liberation "a good sign". It was not immediately known how long the two would stay in Abidjan.

Pereira and Gomes were also due to meet with Ouattara.

The president has pledged a firm response to the recent instability in two countries "to prevent our sub-region from giving in to terrorism and transnational criminality".

Earlier Friday a team of West African leaders left Guinea-Bissau after several hours of closed-door talks with Antonio Indjai, who is widely thought to have masterminded the coup.

Spokesman Na Walna sought to downplay the regional concerns, saying the "return to civilian rule is on track" and adding: "The right place for soldiers is 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.

Since 1998, the country of 1.6 million people has been through one war, four military coups and the murder of one president and four military chiefs-of-staff. No president has ever completed a full term in office.

The Guinea-Bissau army has claimed it staged its coup this month because of an alleged secret deal by the government with Angola, also a former Portuguese colony, to destroy the armed forces.

Angola on Thursday denied its troops had any role in Guinea-Bissau's coup, as the parliament in Luanda agreed to the the recall of about 600 soldiers who had been sent as part of a training project.

"The presence of Angolan troops in Guinea-Bissau was essentially based on a bilateral cooperation pact to train soldiers of the army," junior defence minister Salviano Sequeira told AFP.

  • Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors 8 minutes ago
    Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors

    Long after television grew to dominate American and British homes, newsreel producer British Pathé kept at it, documenting the news of the day until finally ceasing production of new short films in 1970 after 60 years of effort. Last week, all of British Pathé's 85,000 films were put online — including dozens of fascinating, rare and often weird car films that resemble nothing so much as a jet-age Top Gear.

  • Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete 1 hour 22 minutes ago
    Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete

    During this vile, never-ending winter, motorists had three options to keep their cars clean: Shell out on regular car washes; slave away in the cold, wind and snow washing it yourself, or screw it and just drive a dirty car. I, like many, chose the last option. But if only I'd been able to test Nissan's self-cleaning car, all my troubles would have washed away.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 7 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.
    I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.

    I have committed a taboo – I have tendered my resignation without securing the next job. The reactions to the announcement were varied but they all pretty much hint at a deep sense of disapproval. “Why did you do that?” It was as if I had renounced my faith. “What are you going to do from now on?” Almost as though a misfortune had incapacitated me. “What does your family have to say about it?” As if I had offered to cook for the next family dinner. I was, and still am, certain of my reasons and motivations for the resignation. However the response I received got me thinking about why people are so concerned about the gaps in their careers. The developed world evolved from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy to the service age, then to the knowledge economy in the late 1990s and 2000s marked by breakthroughs in technological innovations and competition for innovation with new products and processes that develop from the research community. According to The Work Foundation, the knowledge economy is driven by the demand for higher value added goods and services created by more sophisticated, more discerning, and better educated consumers and ... The post I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind. appeared first on Vulcan Post.