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Military Junta Releases Sao Tome Government Ministers

In Sao Tome, all the government ministers who were detained during last week's coup have been released.

The military junta that ousted the government of President Fradique de Menezes has released the eight people it detained in last week's coup d'etat. Seven of the eight were government ministers under Mr. Menezes.

The ministers were released on the proviso that they remain in their homes under military guard and refrain from involvement in the negotiations about the future of Sao Tome.

Major Fernando Periera, the coup leader, made the agreement with Rodolphe Adada, the foreign affairs minister of the Republic of Congo. Mr. Adada is leading an international delegation that has arrived in Sao Tome to help mediate the restoration of political stability.

Both parties applauded the release of the eight as an important gesture that demonstrated a willingness by the junta to seek a peaceful resolution.

Sao Tome and Principe is a small cluster of tiny islands located in the Gulf of Guinea. The country is poor and in recent years became even poorer as its key export, cocoa, declined in value, making the country increasingly dependent on international aid. However, Sao Tome's fortunes are set to change. The country stands to earn millions of dollars from oil finds which are due to come onstream next year.

But locals fear that there could be more violence in the future as those in power seek to solidify their positions ahead of the anticipated oil boom.