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Leaders urge calm in Guinea-Bissau

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, shown in Jerusalem March 21, 2010. UPI/Ahikam Seri/Pool
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, shown in Jerusalem March 21, 2010. UPI/Ahikam Seri/Pool | License Photo

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau, April 2 (UPI) -- An African Union leader urged Guinea-Bissau to maintain democracy after army officers briefly detained the prime minister.

Jean Ping, African Union Commission president, said an apparent power struggle underscores the need for reform in Guinea-Bissau's defense and security, CNN reported Friday.

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Ping urged the nation Thursday "to abstain from any actions that would destabilize the normal functioning of democratically elected institutions."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called on the nation to resolve its internal differences peacefully.

Army officers seized and held Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. and several Cabinet members for about 3 hours Thursday, said Maria Adiatu Nandigna, a government spokeswoman. Army chief Zamora Induta was placed under arrest.

The Guinean League for Human Rights criticized the actions and demanded a public accounting.

"This is a shameful and irrational act against the institutions of the republic," the organization said in a statement.

Troops who held the officials are thought to be followers of Rear Adm. Bubo Na Tchuto, who was accused of staging a coup several years ago, CNN said. Tchuto had been in exile but returned to Guinea-Bissau, where he faces possible arrest. He has taken refuge at the U.N. office in Bissau, the country's capital, for the last three months.

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