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Guinea-Bissau Military Junta Selects Prime Minister - 2003-09-22

The military junta that seized power in Guinea-Bissau one week ago has selected a prime minister it hopes will lead the transition back to civilian rule within the next two years.

Party for Social Renewal Secretary General Antonio Artur Sanha will take the post of prime minister, with the task of overseeing the restoration of civilian government.

Although Mr. Sanha comes from the same political party as former president Kumba Yala, Mr. Sanha was seen as a radical within the Party for Social Renewal and frequent opponent of the deposed president. Mr. Kumba Yala was ousted from power in a bloodless coup more than a week ago.

General Verissimo Correia Seabra, Guinea-Bissau's self-declared interim president, has said he has no intention of retaining power and has promised to clear the way for long overdue elections. Regional heads of state visited the country last week and said it would take up to two years for a process of transition to be completed.

President Kumba Yala's time in office was turbulent. Parliament was dissolved last November before national elections that were repeatedly delayed. The failure to hold elections and the government's inability to pay wages were given as motivating factors for the coup.