Regional bloc ECOWAS has condemned what it calls an “attempted coup” in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau, where heavy gunfire was heard near the seat of government Tuesday.
President Umaro Cissoko Embalo, a former army general, was reportedly holding a cabinet meeting in the government palace when the shooting broke out.
According to sources in the capital, Bissau, say heavily-armed men had surrounded the building. This has led to many injured and two people have been confirmed dead. If confirmed, this would be the second coup in West Africa in just over a week. Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Kabore, was overthrown by the military on January 23. Army officers also seized power in Guinea and Mali last year.
Embalo was declared the winner of the 2020 elections, but the results have been contested by his opponent, Domingos Simoes Pereira who has started to form a new government with the support of the military even while a supreme court challenge to the election was ongoing.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world body does not know details of the events in Guinea-Bissau but added that “coups are totally unacceptable. He said, “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 in the democratic context of today’s Guinea-Bissau.”
The country of 1.5 million gained independence from Portugal in 1974 and has experienced four coups and more than 12 coup attempts since.