Guinea-Bissau – Coup, PM held

There has been a coup in Guinea-Bissau. The prime minister, Carlos Gomes Júnior, was apparently ‘arrested’ by forces loyal to the deputy head of the army, Antonio Indjai, yesterday morning.

Jeune Afrique reports that the PM was arrested in his office, but that he is being held at his own house. In a press conference, General Indjai threatened to kill the prime minister if the supporters of the democratically elected regime failed to leave the streets where they were demonstrating in support of the prime minister.

In addition to the PM, the head of the armed forces, Zamora Induta, was taken. His whereabouts are “unknown” according to Indjai.

The motivation for the coup seems to go back to the events of March 2009 when President João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was killed only hours after the head of the army, Tagmé Na Waié, was himself killed. It has been assumed that forces loyal to each party were responsible for the tit-for-tat assassinations. General Indjai is reported as saying that PM Gomes and General Induta will have to “pay for their crimes”.

However, if you read Portuguese, then there is a nice, and seemingly plausible, story in Bissau Digital today that links the coup with the government’s recent attempts to crack down on the drug-trafficking regime in the country.

Moreover, Jeune Afrique has updated the story. They report that there have been talks between the president, Malam Bacai Sanha, who is apparently close the General Indjai, and PM Gomes. The matter is now being reported as “matter of confusion” between officers. Seemingly, the government was going to arrest Bubo Na Tchuto, an ally of General Indjai, last week in the context of an attempted coup previously, though the drug connection seems strong.

The bottom line is that the president still seems to be in charge and that constitutional authority may yet be restored quickly.

Amended 17.30, 2 April 2010

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