Guinea-Bissau: President accuses opposition of being behind 'coup attempt'

The Guinea-Bissau army on Wednesday (December 6th) displayed an arsenal of automatic rifles, rocket launchers and ammunition seized since what the government said was an attempted coup d'état between November 30 and December 1. In an interview with France 24, President Embalo accused the opposition of being behind the unrest.

Guinea-Bissau police officers (illustration image) SEYLLOU SEYLLOU / AFP

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The Chief of Staff, General Biague Na Ntam, presented dozens of rifles, a few rocket launchers and communications equipment to the press at the headquarters of the General Staff in Bissau. According to him, they were taken mainly from members of the National Guard during clashes between the latter and the army last week and during combing operations in the following days.

A seizure that proves that it was an attempted coup d'état, for President Umaro Sissoco Embalo interviewed Wednesday night on France 24. "There is no longer a threat" in Guinea-Bissau, we have things "in hand", he assured. The Guinea-Bissau president then accused "the opposition of being behind this coup attempt", in particular the speaker of parliament who according to him had "given instructions to the National Guard", "to go and release the ministers" involved in a corruption case and he justified his decision to dissolve parliament before the end of the constitutional deadline by the fact that there was a "deep crisis".


I am a democrat," Embalo said. In the coming weeks, he announced, there will be "a new government that will set new dates for early parliamentary elections."

The opposition does not recognise the dissolution of Parliament

Parliament and its government, including the Ministry of the Interior, were dominated by the president's political opponents. Domingos Simoes Pereira, Speaker of Parliament and long-time opponent of the president, reiterated his opposition to the dissolution. "Despite the attempted coup, there can be no question of dissolving the (National) Assembly. Our Constitution is clear. Parliament cannot be dissolved within 12 months of its election," Pereira said after a meeting of the coalition led by his party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has a majority in the National Assembly.


For us, there is no such thing as dissolution," Pereira said at the Bissau headquarters of PAIGC, the party that led the liberation struggle in Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony. Domingos Simoes Pereira reported that security forces had been deployed to the National Assembly. He will "summon the deputies so that they can see for themselves that they are prevented from accessing the National Assembly, which means that it is a constitutional coup d'état" that has taken place, he said.

At the same time as he dissolved Parliament, Umaro Sissoco Embalo retained the Prime Minister in office, but took over the Interior and Defence portfolios. The army chief, who has remained loyal to the president, said on Wednesday that the National Guard was now under the control of the military.

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