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EU slaps sanctions on Guinea-Bissau coup leaders

By AFP

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union on Thursday slapped an assets freeze and travel ban on six coup leaders in Guinea-Bissau.

"Given the seriousness of the current situation in Guinea-Bissau, the Council today approved targeted restrictive measures," the EU said in a statement.

It said a ban on entering the EU and the assets freeze targeted "six persons that threaten the peace, security and stability of Guinea-Bissau."

Their names will be listed in the EU Official Journal on May 4.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reiterated that the bloc strongly condemned the April 12 coup "and demands that constitutional order be immediately restored."

The EU sanctions came as West African leaders met in Dakar for a fresh summit on Mali and Guinea-Bissau, both rocked by recent coups.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) talks are aimed at "synchronising the regional response" to the political crises in the two nations, it said in a statement Wednesday night.

In Guinea-Bissau, plans for a return to constitutional rule are clouded in ambiguity as the junta prevaricates.

Army chief Antonio Indjai led the coup, aborting an election process in the country notorious for its history of military overthrows and instability.

The junta initially accepted a 12-month transition programme brokered by the region, however three days later talks collapsed and ECOWAS slapped the coup leaders with sanctions, saying Indjai was not willing to negotiate.

The junta said Tuesday the only sticking point was the return of interim president Raimundo Pereira as head of government, after he was arrested by troops along with other top officials but later released.