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Ousted Guinea-Bissau President Agrees to Resign - 2003-09-17

The ousted president of Guinea-Bissau has formally resigned, after meeting with a West African delegation that is trying to mediate an end to the crisis sparked by Sunday's bloodless coup d'etat. After discussions with West African officials, former president Kumba Yala agreed to relinquish power subject to certain conditions.

The deposed president has asked that his safety be assured and that the possibility of his return to politics be considered. The military junta that took control of the country on Sunday has agreed to Mr. Yala's conditions.

The announcement followed talks mediated by representatives from across the West Africa region, which began Tuesday and ran past midnight.

The bloodless coup d'etat that placed General Verissimo Seabra Correia in power Sunday, has been broadly welcomed in Guinea-Bissau, one of the world's poorest countries.

Kumba Yala came to power through elections in 2000, following another coup by some of the same officers who moved against him on Sunday.

The political and economic situation in Guinea-Bissau has been volatile under his leadership. President Yala dissolved Parliament last November. Elections have been repeatedly postponed, and civil servants have staged strikes over the government's inability to pay their wages.

General Correia has promised to organize elections and restore civilian government. He has stated that he has no ambition to retain political power.