BISSAU - The 15-state ECOWAS group of West African states backed Guinea-Bissau's parliament speaker on Friday to head the transition back to civilian rule after an April 12 coup, a decision immediately rejected within the country's main political party.
The tiny coastal state of Guinea-Bissau has long been a major trafficking hub for Latin American cocaine into Europe, with key army leaders suspected by the United States and others of being implicated in the narcotics trade.
An ECOWAS delegation to the capital Bissau issued a statement declaring that, according to the constitution, parliament speaker Manuel Sherifo Nhamadjo should assume the function of interim president.
However an official for the PAIGC party of former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, favorite to win a presidential run-off that had been scheduled to take place days after the coup, said it would not recognize Nhamadjo.
"The PAIGC ... awaits the view of the UN Security Council on this matter," PAIGC Secretary-General Augusto Olivaz told reporters after the ECOWAS statement, issued in the early hours of the morning after 10 hours of closed-door talks.