Heavy gunfire in Guinea-Bissau’s capital signals coup attempt – KIRO 7 News Seattle

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau — (AP) — Heavy and prolonged gunfire around the government palace in Guinea-Bissau’s capital signaled a coup attempt in the West African country with a long history of military takeovers.

The state broadcaster reported that the shooting damaged the government building and that “invaders” were holding officials back.

President Umaro Cissoko Embalo, a former army general, was inside the building at the time of the attack.

The 15-nation West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, already grappling with three other coups in member states in the past 18 months, called Tuesday’s violence an attempted coup and said he was following the situation in Bissau “with great concern”.

“ECOWAS condemns this coup attempt and holds the military responsible for the physical integrity of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and members of his government,” the statement read in a tweet.

In Portugal, the country’s former colonial ruler, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet“We strongly condemn the attack on the government palace in Bissau and call for an immediate end to this violent action against the president and the government of Guinea-Bissau. The constitutional order must be respected by all.”

Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva condemned what he called “armed activity” in Bissau.

“There is armed activity in Bissau directed against the legitimate authorities of Guinea-Bissau, its president and its government,” Santos Silva told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Embalo was declared the winner of the December 2019 second round, although the results were disputed by his opponent, Domingos Simoes Pereira. Embalo then began to form a new government with the backing of the military while a Supreme Court election challenge was still pending.

Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced four coups and more than a dozen coup attempts.

The tiny nation of around 1.5 million people has long been plagued by corruption and drug trafficking. In the 2000s, it became a transit point for cocaine between Latin America and Europe, with traffickers taking advantage of corruption and weak law enforcement.

West Africa has seen a series of coups since August 2020, with military juntas taking power in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Despite international pressure for a return to constitutional rule, none of the military leaders has yet held new elections.

___ Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Comments are closed.