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Crisis In Guinea-Bissau

A soldier stands guard in a street near the National Assembly on April 13, 2012 in Bissau.

The political situation in Guinea-Bissau has worsened after a military junta suspended the West African nation’s constitution.

The political situation in Guinea-Bissau, already serious with the death of its president and disputed first-round voting to pick his successor, has worsened after a military junta suspended the West African nation’s constitution, dissolved Parliament and closed its borders. The United States strongly condemns this effort to undermine legitimate civilian leadership and the rule of law.

International pressure is mounting for a return to constitutional order, with representatives of the Economic Community of West African States holding daily talks with representatives of the junta leaders, who say they acted to prevent foreign nations from intervening in the crisis and “wiping out” Guinea-Bissau’s military. The African Union has suspended the country from all of its activities. Interim President Raimundo Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., the leader in first round presidential voting, are in military custody and a junta spokesman says it wants to work out a “new constitutional arrangement” for the country in consultation with opposition political parties. Overall, the situation remains unclear.

The United States supports joint efforts by ECOWAS and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries to return legitimate, constitutional rule of law and democratic principles to Guinea-Bissau. We urge all stakeholders in the country to support these efforts and engage constructively.

With others in the international community, we regret that elements of the Guinea-Bissau military chose to disrupt the democratic process, which was already challenged by the opposition’s call to boycott the second round of elections later this month. We urge all parties to put down their weapons, release government leaders immediately and restore legitimate civilian leadership. And we will continue to work with our partners in the region and beyond as we monitor developments on the ground.