In a bid to consolidate his power, born-again Christian...

GUATEMALA CITY -- In a bid to consolidate his power, born-again Christian Gen. Efrain Rios Montt dumped his two fellow junta members Wednesday and appointed himself president of Guatemala.

'Thank you, God, for giving me this opportunity to govern Guatemala,' Rios Montt said in an announcment in the National Palace.


He announced that his fellow junta members Gen. Egberto Maldonado and Col. Franciso Gordillo, who have ruled with him since the coup, were relieved of their posts in their junta.

It was not known if they would keep their positions as ministers.

Shortly before the announcement, there was an intense movement of soldiers in and around the National Palace, but there was no violence reported.

The Guatemalan army appointed Rios Montt as president of the Central American nation of 7.2 million people, an official announcement said.

The announcement also said that Maldonado and Gordillo voluntarily gave up their positions in the junta.

Born a Catholic, he became a born-again Christian several years ago and was preaching in a church when the leaders of the March 23 military coup called him to power.

Rios Montt, flanked by Maldonado and Gordillo and guarded by heavily armed troops, made the announcement to the Cabinet, which apparently had not been informed beforehand.


He said that all the military services agreed to the change.

'In this moment, it's transcendental for Guatmala that e weightf governing falls only on my shoulders,' Rios Montt said.

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