Guinea-Bissau's junta has named a failed presidential candidate to govern the country for two years. The United Nations has condemned the move in West Africa's narcotics hub.
The naming of Manuel Serifo Nhamajo, the former speaker of parliament, to head an interim government was made jointly late Thursday by the military - whose coup last week preempted a presidential election runoff - and Guinea-Bissau's main opposition, the Party for Social Renewal.
Nhamajo's nomination was immediately rejected by the ousted governing party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Its secretary general, Luis Olivares, described the appointment as "unconstitutional."
Similarly, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it "strongly condemned" Nhamajo's installation, describing it as an illegal initiative. ECOWAS added that it planned an emergency summit next week to discuss the fate of the former Portuguese colony.
In the election process aborted last week by the junta, Nhamajo had come only third, with 15.75 percent, trailing the then leading candidate and former premier Carlos Gomes Junior of the governing PAIGC.
Portuguese nations want peacekeepers
In Washington, the UN Security Council heard calls for deployment of a UN peacekeeping force - from Guinea-Bissau's foreign minister and Portuguese-speaking countries.
"I beg for action," said Foreign Minister Mamadu Saliu Djalo, who was outside Guinea-Bissau at the time of the April 12 coup.
Ivory Coast's ambassador, speaking on behalf of ECOWAS, said the regional bloc intended to deploy a military contingent under the UN charter to "ensure the protection" of Guinea-Bissau's electoral process.
The UN Security Council had already demanded that the junta release from detention Gomes and Raimundo Pereira, who was Guinea-Bissau's interim president when the coup took place.
Narcotics hub - destination Europe
Military officers said they staged the coup because an invitation issued by Gomes last year allowing Angola to send 200 troops amounted to Angolan interference.
Analysts, however, have speculated that coup leaders were instead focused on the lucrative narcotics trade via Guinea-Bissau.
Traffickers from Latin America use the West African nation's outlying islands to land small, twin-engine planes loaded with drugs. These are then parceled out and sent on to Europe.
At the UN, Portugal's foreign minister, Paulo Sacadura Cabral Portas, appeared to share that assessment: "What is at stake in Guinea-Bissau is a choice between a state based on constitutional rule or a failed state based on the power of drug trafficking."
ipj/ncy (AP, AFP)