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West African bloc to slap sanctions on G.Bissau

By AFP

BANJUL, Gambia (AFP) - The West African bloc ECOWAS said Monday it had no other option but to impose sanctions on Guinea-Bissau's junta after talks in Banjul failed to yield any progress.

The Economic Community of West African States said in a statement that the head of the junta that took power on April 12 "is not willing to negotiate and clearly prefers to face the consequences."

The statement said: "It becomes obvious that the Contact Group was negotiating with only one person - General Antonio Indjai, the Chief of Defence Staff of Guinea Bissau, the Head of the Junta."

Seven of the region's foreign ministers took part in the talks, aimed at ending the crisis in the tiny coup-prone nation and restoring civilian rule.

The 15-state regional bloc on Thursday decided to send troops to stabilise Guinea-Bissau following the coup, which took place between the two rounds of a presidential election in which outgoing prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior was the frontrunner and the opposition claimed fraud.

At a summit in Abidjan on April 26, ECOWAS gave Guinea-Bissau's junta 72 hours to agree to a return to constitutional order and to allow in 500 to 600 troops or face targeted sanctions.

The regional force's first troops had been expected late Sunday but their deployment was delayed.

"The arrival of the first troops from the Economic Community of West Africa States has been delayed by a few hours," a military source told AFP Monday.

Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast and Senegal are expected to contribute to the force. Its deployment is also aimed at facilitating the withdrawal of a 650-strong Angolan force, whose presence is one of the junta's grievances.

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