As heavy gunfire continued in the area of the government palace in the capital of Guinea-Bissau, according to several Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondents on the spot, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres , claimed on Tuesday 1is February, in a press release, “immediate stop” fighting in Bissau and “full respect for the democratic institutions of the country”. President Umaro Sissoco Embalo will “to address the nation” Tuesday evening, his cabinet said.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also condemned, on Tuesday, in a press release published on social networks, what it considers to be a “attempted coup” underway and asked the military to “return to their barracks”. The African Union (AU) is following the situation with great concern., she said for her part.
The government palace, where the president, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, and the prime minister, Nuno Gomes Nabiam, were supposed to be for an extraordinary council of ministers, was surrounded by heavily armed men, noted AFP correspondents. No information was initially available on the exact cause of the shootings.
The military around the government palace, on the outskirts of the city not far from the airport, kept people at bay. The surroundings were plagued by movements of residents fleeing the scene. Markets emptied and banks closed. Many military vehicles loaded with soldiers criss-crossed the streets.
Many coup attempts
Guinea-Bissau, a small country of about 2 million inhabitants bordering Senegal and Guinea, is a subscriber to political coups. Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, after a long war of liberation, it has experienced four putsches (the last, in 2012), a host of coup attempts and a waltz of governments.
Since 2014, it has been committed to a return to constitutional order, which has not saved it from repeated turbulence, but without violence. The country suffers from endemic corruption. It is also considered a hub for cocaine trafficking between Latin America and Europe. The armed forces play a prominent role here.
Since the beginning of 2020, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, a former general, has been the head of state, following a presidential election whose result is still disputed by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, dominant formation since independence. Mr. Embalo, 49, had forced his destiny in February 2020 by putting on the president’s sash and settling in the presidential palace, despite the persistence of the dispute.
Tuesday’s events, the cause of which is still unknown, inevitably evoke the serial putsches that have shaken West Africa since 2020: in Mali in August of that year and again in May 2021, in Guinea in September 2021 and in Burkina Faso, at the end of January 2022. The situation in these various countries was to be discussed this week at a summit of the organization of West African states, ECOWAS.