Shots fired as Guinea-Bissau faces possible coup

Wednesday February 02 2022
A soldier

A soldier carries a rocket launcher during the state funeral of slain Guinea-Bissau president Joao Bernardo Vieira in a cemetery in Bissau on March 10, 2009. Sustained gunfire was heard on Tuesday near the seat of government in Bissau. PHOTO | AFP


Shots were heard near a presidential palace in Guinea Bissau in what could be the latest threat on President Umaro Sissoco Embaló’s government as well as nascent stability in a country once troubled with illegal take-over of power.

Initial reports said gunshots rent the air as the President hosted a meeting of the Council of Ministers in the presidential palace in Bissau.

According to DW Radio, citing sources from the Presidency the head of state, President Embaló and the Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam were on Tuesday afternoon inside the building, but surrounded by government army personnel.

The President, who is only two years in power, has been one of the vocal critics of coups and other illegal takeover of power in the now troubled West African region.

On Tuesday, a section of the army forces had reportedly barred the Council of Ministers from leaving the palace, creating a standoff and gunshots.

Attempted coup


In October, Guinea Bissau had said it foiled an attempted coup. But the country has had a series of coups in the past, which had caused it to be suspended from the regional bloc Ecowas.

After he won elections in 2019, the new President has criticised coups even though the threat from within his army never decimated. A senior army general was even sanctioned in the US for dealing with drugs, a signal that the desire to control channels of power was also being fueled by drug trafficking.

More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank making it one of the poorest and most unstable countries in Africa.

Guinea Bissau is a West African country with a population of less than two million people.

It is one of the world's poorest states and has a history of coups and has become a major transit route for smuggling cocaine to Europe.

Former president José Mário Vaz who ruled the country between 2014- 2020 became the first president since 1994 to complete his term in a country hitherto destabilised by coups, the last of which had been in 2012.

Presidential re-run

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo won the contested December 29, 2019 presidential re-run.

Mr Embaló took oath of office in February 2020 at the time without the country’s Supreme Court of Justice validating his victory.

However, Rádio Bonbolom FM, based in Bissau, said that at least two people had been killed.

The whereabouts of the President and Prime Minister, the perpetrators of the shots, the possible victims and the reasons for the shooting are currently unknown.