West Africa

President of Guinea-Bissau: Failed coup could be linked to drug trafficking

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau survived a coup attempt on Tuesday

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau survived a coup attempt on Tuesday, but said many members of the security forces were slain in the effort, which he alleged was tied to drug trafficking.

Heavy gunfire had erupted earlier outside a government facility where Embalo was presiding over a cabinet meeting. For several hours, the situation was uncertain, and the African Union and the West African group ECOWAS condemned what they called a “attempted coup.”

The fast-paced events in the former Portuguese colony on the West African coast occurred just over a week after the military deposed the president of Burkina Faso, another country in the region. find out more

In a video broadcast on the Guinea-Bissau presidency’s Facebook page later that evening, Embalo said attackers tried to break into the compound shortly after the cabinet meeting but were repulsed.

“It wasn’t just an assassination attempt. It was a plot to assassinate the president, prime minister, and the entire government “he stated

He went on to say that the attack was “well-planned and organized” and that it “may potentially be linked to persons involved in drug trafficking,” but he didn’t elaborate.

Poverty-stricken The United Nations considers Guinea-Bissau to be a major transit hub for Latin American cocaine destined for Europe. Authorities in the United States and Europe have long assumed that some members of the country’s military are involved in the drug trade.

Embalo, who had substantial military support during a previous political crisis, claimed in his video that the army was not participating in the attack on Tuesday.

“I can promise you that no camp took part in this coup attempt. It was secluded. It has something to do with folks we’ve fought “he replied, without going into detail.

He stated that arrests of those involved have begun, but he did not specify how many.

‘CONTAGION OF A COUP’

On his official website, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he spoke with Embalo over the phone and “conveyed his categorical condemnation… of these acts against the constitutional order of Guinea-Bissau.”

Prior to Embalo’s video, the African Union had stated that some members of the government had been detained and urged the military to free them, without providing further specifics.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by political instability for decades, with nine coups or failed coups since independence in 1974.

During the chaos on Tuesday, the Portuguese embassy in Guinea-Bissau advised its nationals to stay at home, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “grave worry” about the situation in Bissau.

At before 10 a.m., Embalo began chairing an exceptional cabinet meeting, entering the government palace with a large security escort, according to a diplomatic source. Gunfire erupted outside the building as he was inside.

 

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