Bissau (AFP) June 16, 2010
Guinea Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior said Wednesday he would not step down and accused certain figures in the tense and unstable west African country of wanting to plunge it into chaos.
Gomes returned to the country under police escort Monday after heading to former colonial ruler Portugal at the end of April, officially for health reasons, weeks after the army chief was overthrown by his deputy.
Gomes was welcomed home Wednesday by hundreds of members of the ruling African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde party, which he heads although some want him replaced.
"The government that I lead will remain and continue to work until the end of its mandate. I will not resign, that must be clear to everyone," he said.
Guinea Bissau has been tense since the April 1 overthrow of the previous army chief by his deputy, General Antonio Indjai, during which Gomes was held captive by troops for several hours.
There were fears the army was staging a coup but it declared its continued loyalty to Guinea Bissau's political leaders, who include President Malam Bacai Sanha.
"I am ready to work to end the political crisis but I can only allow this to be done through the goodwill of people who are trying at all costs to plunge the country into chaos," the prime minister said.
He said he was a "factor for stability" in the country and the ruling party.
"If I must leave my duties, that must be done through legal channels with an extraordinary congress of the party," said Gomes, elected in 2008.
He has a difficult relationship with the president although they are from the same party, which holds 67 of 100 seats in the National Assembly but is fractured with some pushing for Gomes's removal as party leader.
Gomes, who is the head of government while the president is head of state, met Tuesday with senior officers in the army including the general who grabbed power in April, Indjai.
"There are no particular problems between us," Indjai said after the meeting. "Everything has now been smoothed out. We are going to work together."
Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea Bissau has been through dozens of military coups.
In March 2009 president Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by troops apparently in revenge for the assassination hours earlier of the armed forces chief.
The country's top national export earner is cashew nuts but it has become drawn into the international drugs trade, becoming a key transit point in cocaine smuggling between South America and Europe.
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