G.Bissau military takes over ruling party HQ, radio

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 12 Apr 2012

04/12/2012 20:52 GMT

BISSAU, April 12, 2012 (AFP) - Guinea-Bissau's military Thursday took control of the ruling party headquarters and national radio station as shots and rocket fire rang out in the capital's streets, an AFP correspondent said.

Other soldiers occupied the avenue where the residence of outgoing prime minister and presidential hopeful Carlos Gomes Junior is located, and rocket-propelled grenades and shots were fired on the street.

Guinea-Bissau's opposition -- led by second-placed Kumba Yala, who claims the first round vote was rigged -- have called a boycott of the April 29 run-off vote and warned against campaigning.

The five main opposition candidates including Yala, a former president, said during a joint press conference on Thursday evening that the boycott would be in the name of justice.

"Whoever dares to campaign will be responsible for what happens," Yala warned, without elaborating.

He earlier denounced "massive fraud" in the election's first round on March 18 and said he would not stand in the run-off.

"I have said and repeat it: I do not want a second round," he said.

Gomes garnered 48.9 percent of the votes on March 18 and Yala 23.26 percent. The election campaign for the second round was supposed to start on Friday and end on April 27.

Outbreaks of violence have been feared in the putsch-prone former Portuguese colony for days.

Since winning independence through armed combat in 1974, Guinea-Bissau's army and state have remained in constant, often deadly conflict, with the result that no president has ever completed a full term in office.

Three have been overthrown and one was assassinated in office in 2009.

The latest election was held after the last president, Malam Bacai Sanha, died in January following a long illness.

The UN Security Council last Saturday urged Guinea Bissau candidates and voters to "exercise restraint" ahead of the run-off presidential vote.

The 15 members of the council urged the country's political leaders to "resolve their disputes in accordance with the constitutional framework."

They underscored the importance of successful elections to achieving progress on critical peace-building priorities including demobilizing troops and police, fighting drug trafficking and promoting national reconciliation.


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