(MENAFN) In a harrowing turn of events, Guinea-Bissau, a West African nation, witnessed a bout of deadly violence late last week, which President Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo has unequivocally labeled as an attempted coup. The turmoil unfolded near the presidential palace in the capital, Bissau, when the special forces of the presidential guard clashed with members of the National Guard on Thursday night.
The roots of the conflict trace back to a corruption investigation, where members of the National Guard reportedly freed two government officials—Finance Minister Souleiman Seidi, an opposition party member, and Treasury Secretary Antonio Monteiro—detained earlier in the day. The officials were taken in for questioning regarding an alleged withdrawal of USD10 million from state accounts. The situation escalated when the National Guard stormed a police station to secure their release, leading to a clash with the presidential guard.
The unrest continued into Friday, claiming at least two lives, as confirmed by the Guinea-Bissau army. In a statement issued on Friday, the army pointed fingers at the head of the National Guard, Victor Tchongo, accusing him of orchestrating the incident. Tchongo was subsequently arrested, although recent reports suggest his release, according to a police source quoted by Reuters.
President Embalo, who had left for Dubai to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), returned to Bissau on Saturday. Addressing reporters, he revealed that the attempted coup had hindered his return, underscoring the severity of the situation. The president's denouncement of the incident and the subsequent unrest highlight the fragile political landscape in Guinea-Bissau and the challenges faced by the government in maintaining stability amid internal conflicts.
As the nation grapples with the aftermath of this foiled coup, questions surrounding the motives, actors involved, and the potential implications for Guinea-Bissau's political future remain. International observers and the global community closely monitor the developments, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation, accountability, and efforts to restore calm in the West African nation.
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