By Chris Thompson
The President of Guinea-Bissau, General Umaro Sissoco Embalo has said an attempted coup d’etat prevented him from returning to the country from Dubai.
CONVERSEER learned that President Embalo was in Dubai for the COP28 climate conference when the unrest between members of the National Guard and special forces of the presidential guard in the capital Bissau left at least two people dead on Thursday night.
Speaking on Saturday, Embalo said the deadly violence was an “attempted coup d’etat” which had prevented him from returning.
Adding, “I must tell you this act will have serious consequences.”
The president said the coup attempt was prepared before celebrations on November 16 commemorating the anniversary of the armed forces.
According to Africanews, the small West African nation has seen a series of coups and coup attempts since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974.
The medium said Embalo, who was elected to a five-year term in December 2019, survived a failed overthrow in February 2022.
It added that a military official who spoke under anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation said six soldiers were injured in the fighting and evacuated to neighbouring Senegal.
However, calm returned by noon on Friday to the small nation with a history of instability, following the announcement that the army had captured Colonel Victor Tchongo, commander of the National Guard.
On Saturday the security presence in Bissau was reduced, but soldiers were still visible around certain strategic buildings such as the presidential palace, the judicial police headquarters and some ministries.
Some National Guard officers and soldiers fled into the interior of the country, the army said in a statement Saturday, without specifying numbers.
“The General Staff of the armed forces hereby informs them that they must return to their place of assignment,” the statement continued.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it “strongly condemns the violence and all attempts to disrupt the constitutional order and rule of law in Guinea-Bissau.
“ECOWAS further calls for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the incident in accordance with the law,” the Abuja-based organisation added in its statement on Saturday.
The ECOWAS also expressed “its full solidarity with the people and constitutional authorities of Guinea-Bissau”.
A spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, had called Friday for calm and urged the security forces and the army “to continue refraining from interference in national politics”.
Government spokesman Francisco Muniro Conte said Saturday: “We have always opted for the application of the law. A president who is elected must complete his term of office.”
“We cannot obstruct people who are facing justice if the law is really respected,” he added.