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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Bissau junta set to step down
Coup leader General Verissimo Correia Seabre
General Seabre (right) says he will not stay in power

A military junta, which ousted President Kumba Yala of Guinea Bissau last Sunday, will agree to hand over power to an interim government on Thursday.

The coup leaders are to sign a transition pact in the presence of West African leaders, including Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

Mr Yala, relinquished powers on Wednesday, saying that he was resigning "in the name of national unity, and in the interest of resolving our problems peacefully".

Since the coup, the junta has insisted that it has no intention of holding on to power, and has taken steps to set up a transitional government, which will be tasked with guiding Guinea-Bissau to elections.

Assurances

Regional mediators said on Wednesday that they have received assurances from the armed forces that the soldiers would return to their barracks once an interim government of national unity was formed.

The political struggle will continue, without doubt
Ex-president Kumba Yala

Bissau Archbishop Jose Camnatne, is leading a committee to propose the structure of the transitional government, which is expected to be announced by Thursday.

Several African countries, as well as the United Nations, had condemned the coup and called for the president's reinstatement.

But the army refused to give ground and there was said to be relief among many ordinary people that President Kumba Yala had been removed.

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Civilian government pledged

Mr Kumba Yala, who has been under house arrest since the army overthrew him, had repeatedly postponed fresh elections after he dissolved parliament last year.

President Kumba Yala (right)
Kumba Yala is under house arrest
Coup leaders broadcast his resignation speech over state media hours after it was recorded.

Looking sad and serious, he called for the "immediate formation of a civil transitional government of national unity".

A statement issued by the visiting West African delegation - including foreign ministers from Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Nigeria, Gambia and Cape Verde - said coup leaders had pledged the transitional government would be exclusively civilian.

The statement called for a "civilian of high repute" to lead the government and for the transition period to be of "reasonable duration", AFP news agency reported.

At the end of it "credible, free and fair legislative and presidential elections would be conducted."

Guinea-Bissau's streets quickly returned to normal after the coup and there are now few soldiers visible.


Your comments

What do you think about this situation? Was President Kumba Yala right to step down? Should regional leaders have acted before the coup, rather than just condemning it afterwards? Send us your thoughts.

Yala sowed the seed for the takeover
Solomon Ddo, Ghana
The coup was long overdue much as I am against military takeovers. Yala sowed the seed for the takeover but the military hesitated too much in harvesting the crop. The regional leaders pretended they were asleep when Yala was misbehaving and only woke up when he was overthrown. They should have been more proactive. If they had this would not have happened.
Solomon Ddo, Ghana

President Kumba Yala has absolutely made the right decision by stepping down. Now let the coup leaders keep their promises and hand over power to civilians.
Emmanuel Gonda, Canada/Sudan

Kumba Yala was an incompetent leader. His resignation is a good thing for Guinea-Bissau and Africa. Mr Yala had no project, no vision for the country. Bye bye Mr Yala and do not try to come back.
David Kandian, France

I am happy about President Kumba Yala's decision as it is good for the country and for democracy.
Joge Mukanda, Angola

I like what is happening, any government that is not ready to serve the people should be sacked.
Nkwocha Nkem, Nigeria

It looks like the army did a good job. Lets hope they return the power to the people though, unlike the Burmese junta...
Chris Godfrey, UK

Kumba Yala had no other alternative than to resign
Dr Mamadou Diallo, Guinea-Conakry in USA
Ordinary Africans have welcomed this type of bloodless change. We hope that other Africans countries and high rank military can learn from General Verissimo Correira Seabra who has shown professionalism in protecting his people from the wild predator called Kumba Yala.
Kumba Yala had no other alternative than to resign and African governments should stop mingling in other countries problems.
Dr Mamadou Diallo, Guinea-Conakry in USA

This breed of greedy and incompetent leaders need to be deposed if they don't quit when they have failed or cling to power when their time is up out, it's the only way, the African way.
W Katopola, Malawi

Kumba Yala did the right thing by stepping down because he had proved to be incompetent and lacking the qualities of a national leader. He could not stand to his word. He always lied to the people that they will be elections. Therefore resigning is the most honourable thing to be done by failures like him.
I hope it will not end in Guinea Bissau. There is one unthinking person left and it is only a matter of time before all Africans can enjoy freedom.
Tendayi Madziya, Mozambique

Coups should not be tolerated. They should be condemned outright since those who are behind it are not focused and don't have any plans for the nation. They are greedy animals.
Professor Ojoro Chachatee, Guinea Bissau

If what the coup leaders are saying is true, the action taken is right. The former situation indicates there is arbitral and brutal administration, or to be exteriorised in the immediate future. Yes, good citizens with capacities should never allow that to happen or continue to happen. Civilians should rule.
Teklu Shewa, Ethiopia

I think that ex-president Yala is a very intelligent man to have resigned at the point that he did. He has saved his country from the monsters that would have descended on them in the name of regional powers that profess democracy yet their people are dying of hunger.
Sunday Ogwumike, Nigeria

It's unfortunate that leaders of Africa always look on without concern when events in others parts of the continent are draconian. Instead of correcting one another when the other is going wrong, they seem to maintain a diplomatic silence until when the event spills over that they intervene. 'A stitch in time saves nine' always.
John Patrick Tindana, Accra, Ghana

I am a Ghanaian living in Austria. For the sake of peace, former-president Yala was right to step down. Regional leaders should have intervened earlier, but for this notorious clause of 'non-interference' and 'sovereignty of nations' they often allow dictators to kill and maim poor and innocent people. Mugabe's Zimbabwe deserves action now. If regional leaders can intervene in Liberia or in Guinea-Bissau, the AU must move to Zimbabwe.
Paul Agbodza, Austria

I think what the AU should be doing now is to create a sort of a watchdog that will be responsible for the checking on good governance in every member state. We should not wait until things turn out to be like another Bissau.
Victor Johnson, Sierra Leone

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SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Guinea-Bissau coup
14 Sep 03  |  Africa
Guinea-Bissau 'back to normal'
15 Sep 03  |  Africa
Army chief takes over in Bissau
14 Sep 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea-Bissau
04 Sep 01  |  Country profiles


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