The European Union threatened on Monday to sanction the leaders of a military coup this month in the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau.

“The EU is ready to impose restrictive measures against individuals who continue to engage in or provide support for acts that threaten the peace, security and stability of Guinea-Bissau,” the bloc's 27 foreign ministers said in a statement.

They called for the immediate release of those held “in illegal detention” and reiterated the EU's refusal to recognise self-appointed interim institutions “nor any kind of arrangement which would allow the armed forces to continue to threaten or control the civil powers.”

The junta back-pedalled this weekend on a plan for a two-year transition following threats of UN and regional sanctions.

It has also come under fire from the UN and the west African regional grouping ECOWAS for failing to restore civilian rule after an April 12 military coup.

This weekend, the UN Security Council too threatened “targeted sanctions” if the junta did not step down and return civilians to power. – Sapa-AFP