First rebel leaders killed the army chief of staff. A few hours later they killed the president, Joao Bernardo Vieira. Coup? No word on that yet. Interestingly, it is rumored that Vieira was behind the murder of his chief of staff. Did a plan to control the army following a disagreement with his army chief backfire?
“President Vieira was killed by the army as he tried to flee his house which was being attacked by a group of soldiers close to the chief of staff Tagme Na Waie, early this morning,” military spokesman Zamora Induta told AFP news agency.
If you remember late last year, there was an attempt on Vieira’s life. So he had 400 men in uniform protecting him. How then did he get shot?
Of course. The Press, well some of it, was soon silenced.
“For the security of the journalists, you must close the radio station and stop broadcasting. It’s for your own safety,” armed forces spokesman Samuel Fernandes told reporters at one station.
“We are going to pursue the attackers and avenge ourselves,” he added.
Still, the government has not confirmed his death. No word from the government, nothing from Vieira’s cabinet. All the same, it is evident that there is a war looming in the country as Bissau, the country’s capital city, seems besieged in gun shots and the sound of bombs going off.
Read here a report by the Times on Guinea-Bissau as a conduit of drugs, guns and slaves. The Guardian has a longer piece on How a tiny West African country became the world’s first narco state. Interesting excerpts:
Why have Columbian druglords turned to this small West African nation?
US drug enforcement agents report that the old cocaine channels through the Caribbean, markedly Jamaica and Panama, have become more intensively policed, forcing the Colombians to develop new routes to traffic cocaine. The increasing might of Mexico’s powerful drug cartels has forced the South Americans to search for trafficking routes to Europe across the Atlantic rather than through Central America.
The West African coast is not that far from Central America.
can be reached across the shortest transatlantic crossing from South America: either by plane from Colombia, with a re-fuelling stop in Brazil; or by ship from Brazil or Venezuela. The boats leaving South America travel only by night, remaining motionless by day, covered in blue tarpaulins to avoid detection from the air. The journey can be completed in four to five nights travelling this way.
The threat on the country’s security
In Guinea-Bissau, says the UNODC, the value of the drugs trade is greater than the national income. ‘The fact of the matter,’ says the Consultancy Africa Intelligence agency, is that without assistance, Guinea-Bissau is at the mercy of wealthy, well-armed and technologically advanced narcotics traffickers.’
‘A place like Guinea Bissau is a failed state anyway, so it’s like moving into an empty house.’ There is no prison in Guinea-Bissau, he says. One rusty ship patrols a coastline of 350km, and an archipelago of 82 islands. The airspace is un-patrolled. The police have few cars, no petrol, no radios, handcuffs or phones.
Who buys the drugs?
Although much of the cocaine goes directly to Spain and Portugal, London is becoming an increasingly prominent final destination, says the official – because of the street prices the drug commands – yet Britain also has no permanent diplomatic presence in Bissau, and has not joined the Iberian countries and the EU in contributing to the latest UN plans to help the country. According to the UNODC, the UK and Spain have now overtaken America in the consumption of cocaine per head.
Read the whole article, very fascinating.
Find Guinea Bissau on the map.
Ehe, one of those post colonial divisions. It is the Portuguese Guinea, not the French Guinea. Its the other Guinea, not the Republic of Guinea. The two countries are actually neighbors. Its a pretty small country: 1.6milion people, 37,000 km².
Compiled by Nekessa.