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Gunfire heard in Guinea-Bissau, West African bloc says ‘attempted coup’

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 Sustained gunfire was heard near the government headquarters in the West African coup state of Guinea Bissau on Tuesday AFP reporters said as a regional bloc condemned what it called an attempted coup Heavily armed men surrounded the Government Palace where President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam are believed to have gone to attend a cabinet meeting The building is located on the outskirts of the capital Bissau near the airport People were seen fleeing the area local markets were closed and banks closed their doors while military vehicles loaded with troops drove through the streets The former Portuguese colony is an impoverished coastal state of around two million people south of Senegal It has seen four military coups since gaining independence in 1974 the most recent in 2012 In 2014 the country promised to return to constitutional rule but has enjoyed little stability since then with the armed forces wielding substantial influence A 36 year old French woman living in Bissau Kadeejah Diop said she rushed to pick up her two children from school and witnessed armed troops enter the Government Palace They made all the workers leave There was a huge panic she told AFP by phone from her home Right now we are hiding inside We have no news In reaction to the events the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS issued a statement saying it condemns this attempted coup and urged the soldiers to return to their barracks The bloc warned that it holds the military responsible for the well being of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and members of his government The United Nations said Secretary General Antonio Guterres was deeply concerned by news of heavy fighting in Bissau He called for an immediate end to the fighting and full respect for the country s democratic institutions the UN statement said election agitation Embalo a 49 year old reserve brigadier general and former prime minister took office in February 2020 after winning a runoff election that followed four years of political infighting under the country s semi presidential system He was a candidate for a party called Madem made up of rebels from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde PAIGC that had brought Guinea Bissau to independence His main opponent PAIGC candidate Domingos Simoes Pereira bitterly contested the result but Embalo declared himself president without waiting for the outcome of his petition to the Supreme Court Late last year the head of the armed forces said that members of the armed forces had been preparing to carry out a coup while the president was on a work trip to Brazil The troops had been offering bribes to other soldiers to subvert the established constitutional order said the head of the armed forces General Biague Na Ntam on October 14 The government spokesman denied his version the next day Adding to the volatility Guinea Bissau struggles with a reputation for corruption and drug smuggling Its porous coastline and cultural ties have made it an important stop on the African smuggling route In 2019 almost two tons of cocaine were seized Three West African countries Mali Guinea and Burkina Faso have experienced military takeovers in less than 18 months The growing instability in the region will be discussed on Thursday at an ECOWAS summit in Accra Ghana Source Credit TheGuardian
Gunfire heard in Guinea-Bissau, West African bloc says ‘attempted coup’

West African

Sustained gunfire was heard near the government headquarters in the West African coup state of Guinea-Bissau on Tuesday, AFP reporters said, as a regional bloc condemned what it called an “attempted coup”.

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Government Palace

Heavily armed men surrounded the Government Palace, where President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam are believed to have gone to attend a cabinet meeting.

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The building is located on the outskirts of the capital Bissau, near the airport.

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People were seen fleeing the area, local markets were closed and banks closed their doors, while military vehicles loaded with troops drove through the streets.

The former Portuguese colony is an impoverished coastal state of around two million people south of Senegal.

It has seen four military coups since gaining independence in 1974, the most recent in 2012.

In 2014, the country promised to return to constitutional rule, but has enjoyed little stability since then, with the armed forces wielding substantial influence.

Kadeejah Diop

A 36-year-old French woman living in Bissau, Kadeejah Diop, said she rushed to pick up her two children from school and witnessed armed troops enter the Government Palace.

“They made all the workers leave. There was a huge panic,” she told AFP by phone from her home. “Right now, we are hiding inside. We have no news.

Economic Community of West African States

In reaction to the events, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issued a statement saying it “condemns this attempted coup” and urged the soldiers to “return to their barracks.”

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo

The bloc warned that it “holds the military responsible for the well-being of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and members of his government.”

United Nations

The United Nations said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply concerned by news of heavy fighting in Bissau.”

He called for “an immediate end to the fighting and full respect for the country’s democratic institutions,” the UN statement said.

election agitation
Embalo, a 49-year-old reserve brigadier general and former prime minister, took office in February 2020 after winning a runoff election that followed four years of political infighting under the country’s semi-presidential system.

African Party

He was a candidate for a party called Madem, made up of rebels from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) that had brought Guinea-Bissau to independence.

Domingos Simoes Pereira

His main opponent, PAIGC candidate Domingos Simoes Pereira, bitterly contested the result, but Embalo declared himself president without waiting for the outcome of his petition to the Supreme Court.

Late last year, the head of the armed forces said that members of the armed forces had been preparing to carry out a coup while the president was on a work trip to Brazil.

General Biague Na Ntam

The troops had been offering bribes to other soldiers “to subvert the established constitutional order,” said the head of the armed forces, General Biague Na Ntam, on October 14.

The government spokesman denied his version the next day.

Adding to the volatility, Guinea-Bissau struggles with a reputation for corruption and drug smuggling.

Its porous coastline and cultural ties have made it an important stop on the African smuggling route. In 2019, almost two tons of cocaine were seized.

Three West African

Three West African countries (Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso) have experienced military takeovers in less than 18 months.

The growing instability in the region will be discussed on Thursday at an ECOWAS summit in Accra, Ghana.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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