Guinea-Bissau ex-PM banned from leaving country

Thursday February 24 2022
President Umaro Sissoco

Guinea-Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo. Heavily armed men attacked government buildings in the capital Bissau while he was chairing a cabinet meeting. PHOTO | REUTERS


Guinea-Bissau's former prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, has been banned from leaving the country due to a probe into an alleged coup attempt last year, the attorney-general told AFP on Wednesday.

The move comes several weeks after a failed coup attempt in the notoriously unstable West African country in which 11 people died. 

On February 1, heavily armed men attacked government buildings in the capital Bissau while President Umaro Sissoco Embalo was chairing a cabinet meeting.

Embalo, 49, later told reporters that he had escaped the five-hour gun battle and described the attack as a plot to wipe out the government.

The identity and motives of the assailants remain unclear. Guinea-Bissau's government launched an investigation into what it called a failed coup.

On Wednesday, Attorney-General Bacary Biaye told AFP that Pereira had been placed under judicial review the previous day, meaning that he cannot leave the country without permission.


The decision is related to a separate alleged plot to overthrow Embalo in April 2021 -- of which the details remain vague. 

Pereira, who lost a 2019 presidential election to Embalo, is the leader of the once-dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

Embalo took office in February 2020, following four years of political in-fighting under Guinea-Bissau's semi-presidential system. 

Pereira bitterly contested the result, but Embalo declared himself president without waiting for the outcome of the former prime minister's petition to the Supreme Court.

Guinea-Bissau, a coastal state of around two million people south of Senegal, has suffered four military coups since 1974, most recently in 2012.