ECOWAS slaps sanctions on Guinea-Bissau after talks collapse


Soldiers walk on a bridge in Bissau on March 19, 2012 as officials tally the votes of the presidential elections.



The West African regional bloc ECOWAS has announced that it is imposing sanctions on Guinea-Bissau after talks with members of the country’s military junta to restore civilian rule in the country collapsed.

An ECOWAS official told Reuters: “These are targeted sanctions against junta leaders and diplomatic, economic and financial sanctions against the country. They went into effect at midnight last night.”

Guinea-Bissau’s military – widely viewed as corrupt and deeply complicit in drug trafficking between Latin America and Europe – seized power in a coup earlier this month, arresting Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior just two weeks before Gomes was to take part in a presidential run-off election.

Gomes and interim President Raimundo Pereira were released on Friday and flown to the city of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, according to the BBC.

More from GlobalPost: Soldiers arrest Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior in apparent coup

Seven West African foreign ministers met with junta representatives in Gambian capital Banjul for talks aimed at restoring constitutional order, but while the coup leaders had agreed to a 12-month transition to civilian rule, ECOWAS said the junta had rejected, among other things, a demand that elections be held within one year.

In a statement, the 15-member bloc said: “It became obvious that the Contact Group was negotiating with only one person – General Antonio Indjai, the Chief of Defence Staff of Guinea Bissau, the Head of the Junta,” according to the Agence France Presse.

On Thursday, ECOWAS announced it was sending troops into Guinea-Bissau to stabilize the country. Forces from Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast and Senegal are expected to arrive on Monday.

No elected leader has ever completed a full term in office since Guinea-Bissau secured its independence from Portugal in 1974.

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