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West African summit on Guinea-Bissau next week

By AFP

DAKAR (AFP) - Six west African heads of state will discuss the situation in Guinea-Bissau at a meeting in Dakar next week, the Senegalese government said late on Friday.

The presidents of Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Togo, Cape Verde and Guinea-Conakry, who make up a "contact group" on Guinea-Bissau, will meet on Thursday, it said.

The junta that seized power in Guinea-Bissau on April 12 agreed Friday to a one-year transition back to democracy, the deployment of a regional intervention force and the release of political leaders they rounded up during the putsch.

Raimundo Pereira, the ousted interim president, and Carlos Gomes Junior, the former prime minister, arrived Friday in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan.

The regional Economic Community of West African States decided on Thursday to deploy 500 to 600 troops to the tiny coup-prone nation.

An ECOWAS "technical team" was expected in Bissau on Saturday "to put finishing touches on the practical modalities for deploying the regional force," the junta's spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Daba Na Walna, told a news conference in Bissau on Friday.

Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, has a history of coups and other political violence and has in recent years become a major cocaine trafficking hub between South America and Europe.

The April 12 coup derailed a two-round presidential election in which Gomes was the frontrunner and the opposition claimed fraud.

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