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UN Rejects Guinea-Bissau's Military Leaders, Threatens Sanctions

The U.N. Security Council has condemned a military coup in Guinea-Bissau and threatened additional action against the West African nation.

The council Saturday demanded the reinstatement of what it called Guinea-Bissau's "legitimate government."

In a statement read by U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, the council threatened economic penalties against the country's interim leaders.

"The council stands ready to consider possible further measures, including targeted sanctions against the perpetrators and supporters of the military coup should the situation remain unresolved," said Rice.

The coup took place on April 12 as the country was electing a new leader to replace President Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January.

Soldiers arrested interim President Raimundo Pereira and leading presidential candidate Carlos Gomes, Junior, shortly after the coup. The junta did not give a reason for their detentions.

On Thursday, the junta named former presidential candidate Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo to head the interim government. However, on Saturday, he refused to accept the position, saying the country's National General Assembly should resolve the crisis.

Earlier this week, the country's foreign minister (Mamadu' Jalo' Pires) urged the Security Council to send a peacekeeping force to Guinea-Bissau until civilian rule is reestablished.

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.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.