Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the ongoing attempt by the military to overthrow the government of Guinea Bissau, describing it as ''irresponsible''.
In a statement signed by ECOWAS Commission President Desire Kadre Ouedraogo and obtained by PANA here Friday, the 15-member organization demanded the immediate restoration of constitutional order in its member state to allow for the completion of the electoral process.
''This flagrant defiance of the Community's Zero Tolerance for power obtained by unconstitutional means...cannot go unpunished as, by their action, the military have willfully and knowingly outlawed Guinea Bissau from the ECOWAS Community,'' the statement said.
It expressed disappointment with the timing of the coup attempt, coming just days after a joint ECOWAS-AU-UN mission met with the military hierarchy to warn against any temptation to disrupt the ongoing electoral process.
The coup attempt also came on the eve of the start of the campaign for the 29 April presidential runoff pitting outgoing Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior against opposition candidate and former President Kumba Yala.
Soldiers were said to have taken over most parts of the capital city of Bissau, as heavy gunfire rang out across the city Thursday night.
The soldiers have also taken control of the ruling party headquarters and the national radio, among others.
The whereabouts of Mr. Gomes, who came first in the first round but fell short of outright victory, is not known.
Yala, who came second in the first round, had called for a boycott of the second round, alleging that the first round was rigged.
The presidential election was called after January's death of President Malam Bacai Sanha after a long illness.
Guinea Bissau has been plagued with dictatorship, military coups and political assassination since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974.
-0- PANA SEG 13April2012