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African mediators head for Sao Tome
Several African countries on Saturday agreed to send mediators to Sao Tome and Principe to negotiate with coup leaders the possible return of the deposed president.
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2003 17:42 GMT
Sao Tome continues to be in control of the coup leaders
Several African countries on Saturday agreed to send mediators to Sao Tome and Principe to negotiate with coup leaders the possible return of the deposed president.

Ministers from 11 Central African and Portuguese-speaking countries issued a statement pledging to send a delegation to the tiny West African nation after holding talks in Brazzaville, the capital of Congo Republic.

The delegation will include representatives from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Congo Republic, Gabon, Nigeria and Portugal.

They are to meet coup leaders, who seized power last Wednesday while Sao Tome’s President, Fradique de Menezes was on an official visit to Nigeria.

'This is not just a military coup, this is a peoples coup, trying to identify the problems facing our society'       --Coup leader

Army officers who led the military takeover had earlier expressed willingness to negotiate the possible return of Menezes.

A senior coup leader, Captail Arlecio da Costa meanwhile denied allegations that they had seized power lured by the volcanic islands prospective oil wealth.

“This is not just a military coup, this is a peoples coup, trying to identify the problems facing our society,” Captain Costa said.

“This isn’t about getting the oil, this is about making sure that before the oil starts coming in the government is in the right hands so that the oil will benefit everybody in the country,” he added.

A country of 170,000,  Sao Tome has been mired in poverty and corruption.

Though supposed to be sitting on huge oil reserves, the impoverished country has in recent months been swept by rumors of deals being struck by high-ranking officials for its commercial exploitation.

Coup leaders, led by Major Fernando Pereira have said they seized power to form a transitional government to combat poverty.

Many locals hope the coup would shake up government and ensure even the poor get their share out of the expected oil bounty.

Source:
Agencies
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