Bissau leader pledges polls by year end
29 April 2013, 10:37
Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's interim leader returned home on
Sunday after weeks abroad seeking medical treatment and pledged to organise
elections in his coup-prone nation before the end of the year.
President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo refused to comment on this
month's US drug sting that targeted his country's top brass, accused of
trafficking Latin American cocaine, but said he expected leaders to unite so
donors could fund the election.
African and Western diplomats are pinning their hopes on the
election drawing a line under decades of instability in the former Portuguese
colony, but a US sting operation that targeted the military chief sent
shockwaves through the tiny nation.
"Presidential elections will take place this
year," Nhamadjo told reporters after he returned from weeks of treatment
in Germany for an unspecified medical problem.
"The political parties will come together to set up, as
soon as possible, a unity government," he added.
The nation was thrust into its latest crisis last year when
the military arrested then Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and acting
President Raimundo Pereira in the midst of an election that Gomes Junior was
poised to win.
Armed Forces Chief General Antonio Indjai was briefly in
power before officially ceding to Nhamadjo.
However, Indjai is still widely seen as the nation's most
powerful man and was targeted by, but escaped, the US sting operation that
netted the country's former navy chief.
Nhamadjo refused to comment on the sting operation, which
has led to authorities during his absence accusing Washington of illegally
kidnapping one of the country's citizens.
"I was away from the country ... I was never briefed on
this issue while I was away," he said.
Elections were due to be held in May, but in March West
African leaders prolonged the mandate of the caretaker government until the end
of the year.