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Bissau president stands firm in military standoff

LISBON, Portugal (Reuters) -- Guinea-Bissau President Kumba Yalla would not back down in a dispute with former coup leader General Asumane Mane, who proclaimed himself army chief-of-staff on Monday, the West African nation's defense minister said on Tuesday.

Joao Correia Landim told Portuguese state radio RDP that Yalla would not accept Mane declaring null and void 30 promotions the president announced last week.

"It is unbelievable that the president of the republic, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, awards promotions and then later for an unjustified reason, takes back the promotions," Correia Landim said.

Yalla took office in the former Portuguese colony on February 17 after an election, and a civilian government was named two days later.

The polls signaled the end of military rule after Mane lead an army revolt in 1998 and a coup in 1999, but friction has persisted between the civilian government and the military.

Tensions rose between Yalla and Mane in April when former junta members refused to give up their posts after the government dismissed them.

Prime Minister Caetano N'tchama called an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the standoff, Portuguese news agency Lusa said.

Lusa added that a government source said the meeting would back a statement made by Correia Landim Monday night saying that Mane's self-promotion was "a big mistake."

Mane on Monday said he named himself chief-of-staff because "President Yalla cannot interfere in military affairs."

Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama meanwhile called on local radio for the situation to be "solved through political dialogue and compromise by the parties involved."

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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