Calm has returned to Guinea-Bissau, as president says failed coup may have been linked to drug trade

Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

BISSAU, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo survived an attempted coup on Tuesday but said many members of the security forces had been killed repelling an attack on democracy that may have been linked to drug trafficking.

Earlier, heavy gunfire rang out near a government compound where Embalo had been chairing a cabinet meeting. The situation was unclear for several hours, during which the African Union and West African bloc ECOWAS condemned what they called “an attempted coup”.

The fast-moving events in the former Portuguese colony on the West African coast came just over a week after the military in Burkina Faso, another country in the region, deposed the president there.

Appearing in the evening in a video posted on the Guinea-Bissau presidency’s Facebook page, Embalo said attackers had tried to enter the compound just after the cabinet meeting but had been repelled.

“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 organised and could also be related to people involved in drug trafficking”, giving no further details.

Poverty-stricken Guinea-Bissau is viewed by the United Nations as a major waypoint for Latin American cocaine headed for Europe. U.S. and European authorities have long suspected that some in the country’s military are involved in the drug trade.

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About Cholo Brooks 17488 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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