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Guinea-Bissau's FM Seeks Peacekeepers Help After Coup

Guinea-Bissau's Foreign Minister is calling on the United Nations Security Council to authorize the deployment of peacekeepers into the country to help restore security following last week's military coup.

Foreign Minister Mamadu' Jalo' Pires is urging the15-nation council to send a peacekeeping force to the tiny West African nation until civilian rule is re-established.

However, diplomats say the Security Council would prefer Guinea Bissau exhaust all regional mediation efforts before authorizing a stabilization mission.

ECOWAS has condemned the military's plans to organize elections in two years, charging that the junta reneged on a previous understanding to immediately restore democracy in the country.

On Thursday, the military junta named a former Guinea-Bissau presidential candidate to head the proposed two-year transitional government, defying international calls to turn the government back to elected officials.

Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo was selected by the military and a group of opposition parties to head the interim government.

Guinea-Bissau's ruling party did not take part in the selection process and rejected a power deal reached by the military junta and the group of opposition parties.

PAIGC party spokesman said talks between coup leaders and some political parties on returning power to civilians are a "farce."

National spokesman Fernando Mendonca said the only way to restore constitutional order is to return power to those elected by the people.

He also demanded the release of Interim President Raimundo Pereira and leading presidential candidate Carlos Gomes, Junior.

Soldiers arrested the two officials after the April 12 coup. The junta has not given a reason for their detention.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says a delegate has visited President Pereira and Gomes twice since Saturday and a spokesman said Thursday both men appeared to be in good condition.

The coup took place as presidential candidates were set to begin campaigning for a run-off election that was to be held on April 29.

Gomes won the first round of voting and appeared to have a comfortable lead in the run-off against former president Kumba Yala, who has strong ties to the military.

Guinea-Bissau was electing a new president to replace President Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January after a long illness. Pereira was appointed interim president until voters elected a new leader.

Since winning independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has struggled through a dictatorship, four coups and the 2009 assassination of a president. It has also become a transit point for international drug traffickers.