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AU suspends Guinea-Bissau for coup as talks under way

BISSAU--The African Union (AU) suspended Guinea-Bissau on Tuesday over last week's coup, adding to pressure on military chiefs who said they were ready to restore power to civilians after talks with regional mediators.

“The (AU's) Peace and Security Council decides to suspend with immediate effect Guinea Bissau from all activities ... until restoration of constitutional order,” AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said in Addis Ababa. Foreign governments and international organizations have condemned Guinea-Bissau's military for cutting short a presidential election in the impoverished West African state, detaining front-runner and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes as well as interim President Raimundo Pereira.

Guinea-Bissau's Catholic bishops also condemned the coup, while Amnesty International accused the army of clamping down on protests, the media and freedom of movement.

The former Portuguese colony has seen several coups and army revolts since independence in 1974 and the latest is a blow to Western donors' efforts to reduce military meddling in politics and counter the influence of Latin American drug-trafficking cartels using the country as a transhipment point.

Suspension is the African Union's normal response to any interruption of constitutional rule in one of its members.

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