Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo says that the country has survived a coup attempt. But the coup was not staged by the military. Instead, many security force members have been killed defending the Presidential Palace.
Rumors were going around all day on Tuesday that the military had staged a coup and heavy gunfire was underway. The intense gunfire was being reported near the country’s Presidential Palace. The situation was so confusing that the regional bloc The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) confirmed and condemned the coup attempt and called upon the military to go back to barracks.
But Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo said the coup was launched by drug traffickers and militarily defended democracy.
“It wasn’t just a coup. It was an attempt to kill the president, the prime minister, and all the cabinet,” he said. He added that the attack “was well prepared and organized and could also be related to people involved in drug trafficking”, he further said.
Guinea Bissau is notorious for the narcotics trade. Influential figures in the country are said to be involved in the trade of cocaine and other narcotic substances. Regarding who staged the coup, the president said, “I can assure you that no camp joined this attempted coup. It was isolated. It is linked to people we have fought against”.
He said arrests had begun of people involved, but he did not know how many.
Guinea Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 1973, which was recognized the following year. The country is situated in coup-prone west Africa. Within the last 9 months, in three west African countries, army officers have overthrown civilian governments. In Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, militaries have seized power.