ECOWAS make progress in Guinea-Bissau | News | DW | 28.04.2012
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ECOWAS make progress in Guinea-Bissau

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) seems to be making progress with rebel leaders in Guinea-Bissau, who have released the country's interim president and ex-prime minister from detention.

Troops in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau have freed interim President Raimundo Pereira and ex-Prime Minister Carlos Gomes. They have been flown to Ivory Coast's capital of Abidjan.

According to press agency AFP, the two were met at Abidjan airport by Ivory Coast's Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and the African Integration Minister Adama Bictogo.

Bictogo said their liberation was "a good sign."

Gomes and Pereira were detained during a military coup on April 12, after the army seized power during a presidential election in which Gomes had been the frontrunner. After closed-door talks on Friday, the coup leaders also agreed to a 12-month transition to civilian rule, as demanded by the 15-member West African bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States).

On Thursday, ECOWAS decided to deploy 500 to 600 troops to the tiny coup-prone nation. The group also announced that the presidents of Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Togo, Cape Verde and Guinea-Conakry would form a new "contact group" on Guinea-Bissau and are due to meet next week to discuss the situation there.

Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, has a history of coups and political violence. In recent years, it has become a transit point for Latin American drug cartels transporting narcotics to Europe. No elected leader in nearly 40 years of independence has completed a term in office there.

sb/mz (AFP, AP)