The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has imposed sanctions on Guinea-Bissau after talks between the bloc and the country's military junta, which seized power in a coup last month, failed to reach an agreement to restore constitutional order.

ECOWAS said in a statement released on Tuesday that sanctions went into effect on Sunday, targeting Guinea-Bissau's current leadership for rejecting the organization's demands to implement a transition back to civilian rule.

Following the regional bloc's meeting in Gambia's capital Banjul, ECO WAS "concluded that it was fruitless to continue [holding talks] as it became obvious that the head of the military junta was not willing to negotiate and clearly prefers to face consequences".

The official also said that representatives of the military leaders sent to Banjul for talks on Sunday had rejected a
demand by the regional bloc that elections be set within 12 months, and that interim president Raimundo Peria, arrested by soldiers during the coup, should be reinstated to oversee the transition.

The country was just weeks away from holding a presidential run-off election when soldiers arrested Carlos Gomez Junior, the vote's front-runner who is also a former president, and Peria. The two men have since been freed.

Last week the 15-country group authorized the deployment of about 600 soldiers to Guinea-Bissau to protect state institutions and to monitor the country's transition back to civilian rule.

Source: Agencies