Aborted coup in Bissau: “The situation is under control”
Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo escaped a coup attempt on Tuesday, the latest in a series of coups across West Africa.
Mr. Embalo, a former general who arrived in 2020 at the head of this country with a political history marked by such events, appeared Tuesday evening before the press unharmed and serene, after having been trapped with ministers in the government palace, the scene for several hours in the afternoon of heavy gunfire.
The head of state and members of the government were surprised inside the palace, the headquarters of the ministries where an extraordinary council of ministers was taking place, by armed men whose motives are still unknown, according to witnesses. The aim was “to kill the president of the Republic and the entire cabinet,” he said.
Mr. Embalo did not specifically name the perpetrators of the coup attempt. This one “must come from those who are against the decisions I took, especially in the fight against drug trafficking and corruption”, he said, speaking of “a very well prepared and organized act”, but also of an “isolated” act.
He said he found himself “under heavy gunfire for five hours”, alongside his aide-de-camp, two bodyguards and a minister, while the fighting raged.
There were “many deaths,” he said. After several hours of confusion and rumors, the president was let off the hook.
Guinea-Bissau, a nation of about two million people bordering Senegal and Guinea, seems to have a history of coups. Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, it has seen four putsches (the last in 2012), a slew of coup attempts and a succession of governments.