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G. Bissau army to return to barracks
by Staff Writers
Bissau (AFP) May 23, 2012

Guinea-Bissau's armed forces vowed Wednesday to return to their barracks after transitional authorities formed a new government that includes an army officer who participated in the country's April 12 coup.

Interim President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo signed a decree establishing the 27-member cabinet under Prime Minister Rui Duarte Barros, which includes as defence minister Colonel Celestino Carvalho, a member of the putschists who ousted the president.

Another army colonel who did not participate in the coup, Musa Diata, was named as junior minister for veteran affairs. Former prime minister Faustino Fudut Imbali will hold the foreign ministry brief.

"Now that the transition government has been formed, the military command (the coup leaders) and the army will return to their barracks," junta spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daba Na Walna told AFP.

He did not give details on the date and modalities of the withdrawal. It was also not immediately clear whether the military command would eventually be dissolved.

"We are no longer allowed to publicly speak to the press," he said.

The new government has 14 ministers and 13 junior ministers, including two women. None of the members of the government ousted by the putschists returned to the new cabinet.

On Saturday, the country's junta, parliament and a group of political parties signed a roadmap aimed at ending the crisis created by the coup.

The five-page document was signed by interim parliament speaker Braima Sori Djalo, the junta's top leader and 25 parties, including the Social Renovation Party, the main opposition party before the coup.

Local media said the roadmap includes the creation of a new polling body, whose chairman will have to be a career magistrate and will be tasked with revising the electoral law.

The roadmap also stipulates that a cabinet to be formed by the new prime minister should begin its work with a reform of the civil service and the security apparatus.

A regional peace force has started deploying in the tiny west African country in an attempt to help the transitional authorities stabilise it and organise elections in a year.

Despite handing power over to a civilian government, the coup leaders are still influential in Guinea-Bissau, and hand-picked transitional president Nhamadjo.

On Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously ordered sanctions against the five leaders of last month's coup, but the name of the new defence minister Carvalho did not figure on the list.

Since independence from Portugal in 1974, the country's army and state have remained in constant conflict, and no president has ever completed a full term in office.

Guinea-Bissau has also become a hub for drug-running between South America and Europe.

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