Guinea-Bissau: Military chief killed, President follows suit

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The President of Guinea Bissau, Jao Bernado Vieira, 69, was assassinated early Monday morning by a group of military personnel in the country’s capital, Bissau. His assassination was announced hours after the assassination of the head of the military, General Tagme Na Waie, who was killed Sunday evening in a deadly bomb attack. The military had accused the President of being the brain behind the death of General Tagme Na Waie.

Only four months ago, Jao Bernado Vieira had narrowly escaped an assasination attempt when his private house was stormed by renegade soldiers, while in January, General Tagme Na Waie had claimed that he had narrowly escaped an assassination attempt orchestrated by the presidential clan. According to him, soldiers faithful to the President had opened fire as his vehicle approached the presidential palace.

Political and social instability has been an issue in the relatively poor and fragile west Africa country, by regional standards, since its independence from portugal in 1974. After fighting alongside the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde in 1960, President Vieira took over power in his country, in 1980, through a military coup.

To give room for a better political system, president Vieira’s regime made considerable efforts in setting a path to multiparty democracy and a market-driven economy eleven years after his rise to power. He conducted the country’s first elections which he won in 1994. Five years after his democratic election, the Guinean president accused his army chief of backing rebels in Senegal and fired him.

But the president was ousted from office by renegades who were on the side of the sacked army chief. The vibrant president, however, staged another coup in 2003, and returned from Portugal where he had sought political asylum. In 2005, he was back in the presidential office again. The power play between Vieira — who enjoyed power by virtue of his military force– and his military chief, Tagme Na Waie, undoutedly encouraged an accelerated divorce from the military and “sealed his doom”, indicated Franck Salin. According to the military spokesman, Captain Zamora, the late president was an “impediment” to the country’s development.

Radio stations in the country remain closed on military orders, but it has been reported that the Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Junior, who has also not been on very friendly terms with the defunct president, called an emergency meeting with government oficials soon after the death of the military chief to “moniter the situation”, before the killing of President Jao Bernado Vieira.

For more, please read: Guinea Bissau’s affair with Coup d’etats and Cocaine

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