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Nigeria restores Sao Tome President

Posted by By Raymond Mordi, TOBI EBOLE, OLALEKAN OSIADE on 2003/07/25 | Views: 1315 |

Nigeria restores Sao Tome President

NINE days after his ouster, the traumatic sojourn of President Frandique de Menezes of Sao Tome in Nigeria came to a joyful end on Wednesday as he was literally led back to power by his host, President Olusegun Obasanjo De Menezes’ restoration came on the heels of consultations and dialogue...

NINE days after his ouster, the traumatic sojourn of President Frandique de Menezes of Sao Tome in Nigeria came to a joyful end on Wednesday as he was literally led back to power by his host, President Olusegun Obasanjo
De Menezes’ restoration came on the heels of consultations and dialogue between international mediators, including Nigeria, Portugal, Angola, Gabon, United States and the United Nations, and coup leaders in the island-nation

He had been attending the Leo Sullivan Summit in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, when a group of military officers led by Major Fermando Pereira seized power. The Obasanjo government promptly swung into action, by rallying other African Union member-states to condemn the putsch and dispatching a negotiation team to Sao Tome and Principe after initial consultations with the coup leaders

Giving a detailed account of the return of de Menezes to power, a member of the Nigerian delegation told the DAILY TIMES on arrival that Obasanjo thanked the mediators who had worked for a resolution of the conflict

At a closed-door meeting that followed, Obasanjo was said to have described the coup in Sao Tome as a development which did no credit to the African continent, adding that what has happened in the last one week would go a long way to show that the rest of democratic Africa would no longer brook military take over anywhere in the continent

Pointing out that he was in the country on behalf of Africa, Obasanjo in a blunt address to the coup leaders noted that being once a soldier himself he was aware that the welfare of officers and men is quite important. He however said that whatever could have been the problem was insufficient reason to sack a democratically-elected government, adding that “soldiers are not trained to take over governments.” “I believe we have put this behind us. It is a victory - if not for the president or the military, it is a victory for the people,” Olusegun Obasanjo told the Reuters news agency after the talks. According to the Nigerian leader, African leaders would no longer tolerate military coups

“Let it not happen again. African leaders won’t take this (military coup) any longer. We’ll attack any country where soldiers decide to interrupt democratic governance. I hope that this will be the last time this type of thing will happen,” Obasanjo was quoted as saying

Responding, Fermando said he had given his word of honour that there would no longer be any military intervention in the country. He added that the coup was hatched to draw attention to the problems of the military and that he had noted President Obasanjo’s offer that he (Obasanjo) could be contacted in case of any problem

Speaking to media men, a grateful de Menezes was effusive in his praises for President Olusegun Obasanjo’s role in resolving the crisis. He also thanked other African leaders and members of the international community who intervened towards ending the coup nightmare

He also pledged: “We must work to rehabilitate the image of the country.” Under the agreement reached with the coup leaders, President de Menezes is expected to reorganise his cabinet and give amnesty to the coupists

According to terms of the settlement, Menezes, who has fired four prime ministers and dissolved parliament once since his five-year term began in September 2001, is also obliged to respect his nation’s separation of powers

The coup leader, Major Fernando Pereira, has however cautioned President Menezes to abide by the terms of the restoration. He warned that the military could rebel again if the government violates the agreement, which also grants them amnesty

“In a context where development is hampered by corruption, with directionless rulers and state institutions, the army can’t be still because that goes against the destiny of our people,” Pereira said after signing the agreement

Pereira took power citing a continued social and economic decline in this oil-rich but poor country in the Gulf of Guinea. The United States, the United Nations, the 53-nation African Union and others demanded the government be restored in the former Portuguese colony. Some countries and the World Bank threatened the rebels with diplomatic isolation and cuts in aid

Sao Tome and Principe is a nation of about 140,000 people in a region of growing international importance. The islands are in one of the continent’s most active oil exploration areas, but the nation has yet to export a drop of crude

The coup leaders detained seven government ministers at military installations before releasing them Sunday. All are at their homes under military guard

Prime Minister Maria das Neves has been hospitalized under military surveillance since the coup after collapsing following her arrest. She is being treated for high blood pressure

In the streets, people said they were pleased with the fast return of the government

“I was surprised that it ended so quickly, I was expecting a more lengthy negotiation process,” said Raul Espirito Santo, a 45-year-old unemployed man

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