Guinea-Bissau: Analyst questions motives for 'attempted coup'

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Guinean analyst Rui Jorge Semedo today questioned whether the attack on the Government Palace on Tuesday was an attempted coup d'état or a terrorist attack, stressing that the events have not yet been clarified.

"Unfortunately until today we are also confused, because the Government and the Presidency of the Republic itself have not been able to clarify what happened. If it is really an attempted coup d'état or if it is a terrorist attack," Rui Jorge Semedo told Lusa.

Armed men attacked on Tuesday the Government Palace of Guinea-Bissau, where a Council of Ministers was taking place, attended by the President of the Republic, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, and the Prime Minister, Nuno Nabiam.

The analyst explained that both the President of the Republic and the government linked the act to people under investigation related to drug trafficking, with the executive reinforcing that the people who carried out the attack supposedly had funding from abroad to mobilise the logistics and weaponry used.

"In those communications they never made very clear the participation of military personnel. They mentioned that there were half a dozen people linked to the defence and security forces, but did not assume the involvement of the Armed Forces in this act," he said.

For Rui Jorge Semedo, this is where the doubt lies.

"Whether it is really an attempted coup d'état or an attack. Since the official communications lead that way. Now only a serious and credible investigation can dispel the doubts and present the reality of the facts," he stressed.

The analyst said that people have the right to be informed. "The State of Guinea-Bissau, particularly the Presidency of the Republic and the Government, owes Guinean society an explanation for the death of good Guineans and for what reason? We don't know," said Semedo.

The analyst recalled that this is a democratic context and that access to information is one of the pillars of democracy. "We do not have information and the information we receive from the national authorities is not credible," he said.

Stressing that he did not want to question the attack, the analyst said that there are elements that so far no one has explained, namely who the ringleaders are, which barracks were involved, who led the process, who are the people arrested and supposedly accused of being behind the events.

"These elements help to clarify and give a certain veracity to what is happening. So, in the absence of these elements we are not only left confused by the confusion, but we are also left with doubts as to whether what they are saying is really true or not. So we hope that in the coming times or days we will have more credible information," he said.

The analyst also considered the attack as a "wake-up call to all political actors, at least those in power".

"They should let democracy work," he said, stressing that if democracy works, situations of this kind can be avoided.

For Rui Jorge Semedo, "oppression and repression is leading the democratic process and it is a methodology that invites the military to participate in the democratic game".

The analyst also recalled that although the guns have been silent for almost ten years, "it does not mean that the country did not live in a moment of tension", which he considered increased from 2019 and intensified in recent months.

The attack caused at least 11 deaths, according to the Government's latest assessment, and the President considered it to be an attempted coup d'état that could also be linked to "people related to drug trafficking".

The General Staff of the Guinean Armed Forces has since launched an operation to gather further evidence of the attack, which has been condemned by the international community.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, with around two-thirds of its 1.8 million people living on less than a dollar a day, according to the UN.

Since the unilateral declaration of its independence from Portugal in 1973, it has suffered four coups d'état and several other attempts that have affected the country's development.

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