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Guinea-Bissau’s chief calls a shootout an tried coup, heightening tensions in West Africa

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BISSAU, Guinea Bissau — BISSAU, Guinea Bissau (AP) — A shootout in Guinea-Bissau’s capital Friday was an tried coup, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo mentioned Sunday after a gathering with safety forces, confirming fears over the newest risk to democracy within the more and more risky and coup-hit West Africa.

“They tried a coup and didn’t materialize their goal,” Embalo mentioned, after members of the Nationwide Guard command improperly launched two ministers detained over alleged corruption, leading to a shootout with the Presidential Palace Battalion.

Throughout a go to to the Nationwide Guard command in Bissau, Embalo mentioned Victor Tchongo, the top of the Nationwide Guard, has been dismissed and “pays dearly” for the try to depose the president.

“You’re all betrayed by your commander … (and) because of this we advise you to distance your self from politicians and do your service to the nation,” he instructed officers.

The tried coup is the second in West and Central Africa in per week after final week’s failed coup in Sierra Leone. It additional raises tensions within the area the place coups have surged with eight navy takeovers since 2020, together with in Niger and Gabon this yr.

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West Africa’s regional financial bloc of ECOWAS — to which Guinea-Bissau belongs — famous the incident with “deep concern” and expressed “full solidarity with the individuals and constitutional authority of Guinea-Bissau.”

After getting back from the United Nations’ COP28 local weather summit on Saturday evening, Embalo advised to reporters that Tchongo of the Nationwide Guard was not performing alone.

“Tchongo was ordered by somebody,” The Democrat, a neighborhood newspaper, quoted him as saying. “Tchongo is just not loopy about blowing up the Judiciary Police cells and eradicating the minister of finance and the secretary of state. That is an tried coup d’état and there will likely be severe penalties for everybody concerned.”

The small nation of Guinea-Bissau has endured a number of coups since gaining independence from Portugal almost 5 a long time in the past.

Nonetheless, in contrast to in different coups in West Africa which have been impressed by perceived dangerous governance, the shootout in Guinea-Bissau began because the members of the Presidential Palace Battalion tried to rearrest two authorities officers — Financial system and Finance Minister Suleimane Seidi and Treasury Secretary António Monteiro.

Each have been being questioned over the usage of authorities funds earlier than the members of the Nationwide Guard secretly launched them, native media reported.

Guinea-Bissau’s semi-presidential system limits the president’s powers by permitting the bulk social gathering within the parliament to nominate the Cupboard. Because of this, the Nationwide Guard — which is below the Ministry of Inside — is basically managed by the opposition-dominated parliament.

Tensions have additionally remained between Embalo and a coalition of opposition teams that gained the bulk in Guinea Bissau’s parliament in June, a couple of yr after the president dissolved the parliament.

Embalo, a former military normal, was declared the winner of a December 2019 runoff presidential election which his opponent contested. He survived a February 2022 coup try that he asserted had “to do with our combat in opposition to narco-trafficking” and he has since then cracked down on civic freedoms whereas authorities our bodies have misplaced important independence, in response to analysts.


Asadu reported from Abuja, Nigeria.

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