Guinea-Bissau: President Embaló speaks, says coup failed, perpetrators arrested

President Umaro Embaló of Guinea-Bissau has addressed the media after a coup scare in the West African country on Tuesday, New York Times has reported.

Speaking to the media, President Embaló said many members of his own security forces had been killed in what he termed a failed attack against democracy.

He said some of the perpetrators had been arrested.

“It wasn’t just a coup,” he said. “It was an attempt to kill the president, the prime minister and the entire cabinet.”

“Armed attackers tried to enter the building but were repelled. They were well prepared and organized and could be related to people involved in drug trafficking,” he added.

The president’s reaction came hours after soldiers fired heavy gunfire near a government compound where the president had been chairing a cabinet meeting.

There have been at least six coup attempts in African countries since 2020, raising concerns democracy was under threat in the region.

Regional bodies and the United Nations have issued statements condemning the attack by the military in Guinea-Bissau.

“ECOWAS is following with great concern the evolution of the situation in Guinea-Bissau … where military gunfire is taking place around the Government Palace,” the regional body said in a Tuesday statement.

Also, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Mahamat, in a statement, said he is following the situation in Guinea Bissau with great concern.

“He calls on the military to return to their barracks without delay and to ensure the physical integrity of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and the members of his government and to immediately release those among them who are in detention.” Mr Mahamat said.

António Guterres, UN chief, said the situation pointed to a worrisome trend.

“We are seeing a terrible multiplication of coups, and our strong appeal is for soldiers to go back to the barracks, and for the constitutional order to be fully in place,” he said.

Guinea-Bissau has weathered at least four successful coups, the last in 2012, and about a dozen attempted ones since it gained independence from Portugal 48 years ago.

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