Friday, June 5, 2009

Guinea-Bissau Military Police, Alleging a Coup Attempt, Kill Presidential Candidate, Two Former Ministers

Military police in Guinea-Bissau on Friday killed a government minister who was to be a candidate in presidential elections and two former ministers. Government authorities claim that the three men were plotting a coup attempt but supporters of the former ministers claim the killings were to prevent prosecutions for the March assassination of Guinea-Bissau's president.

Five individuals in total were killed
, including a driver and a bodyguard in addition to the three ministers. The three former ministers were presidental candidate and territorial administration minister Baciro Dabo, former defence minister Helder Proenca and ex-prime minister Faustino Embali.

In March, both Guinea-Bissau's president and its head of army were assassinated. Subsequently, Guinea-Bissau's state prosecutor, citing insufficient money, stated he could not afford to investigate the twin assassinations.

Guinea-Bissau has become a major depot for Latin American drug cartels seeking to smuggle cocaine into Europe.

According to Wikipedia:

Dabo had been a singer and a journalist before entering politics.[2] He became the Minister of Territorial Administration and a senior member of the governing African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).[3] He was a close ally of President Joao Bernardo Vieira who was assassinated by members of the armed forces, who blamed him for an explosion which killed the Chief of Staff, Batista Tagme Na Wai on 2 March 2009.[3][2] There had been a long and violent feud between Vieira and Na Wai.[2] No-one was prosecuted for the killing and a presidential election was scheduled for 28 June to select a new president.[3] Dabo resigned as a minister in May 2009 to put himself forward as an independent candidate and became one of 13 candidates contesting the election.[3][4] Election campaigning was due to open on 6 June.[2]

His supporters say that between 3.30 and 4 am (local and GMT) on 5 June 2009 a group of around 30 uniformed and armed soldiers arrived at his home and demanded to see him.[5] The soldiers were then said to have shot their way to Dabo's bedroom where he was asleep in bed with his wife, injuring some of his six-member security team in the process.[5][6] The soldiers are then alleged to have shot Dabo several times, killing him instantly.[7] News agency, Agence France-Presse has stated that a "medical source" told them that Dabo had suffered three Kalashnikov bullet wounds to the abdomen and one to the head, fired from short range.[5]

The Guinea-Bissauan authorities present a different series of events and say that he died in an exchange of fire whilst resisting arrest over an alleged coup plot.[3] Former Defence Minister is also reported to have been killed on a road between Bula and Bissau alongside his driver and a bodyguard.[8] The BBC says there are unconfirmed reports that former Prime Minister Faustino Fudut Imbali was also killed, and his wife says that he was taken away by the military.[3] Several other PAIGC politicians have been detained by security forces as part of the coup investigation.[3] The Guinea-Bissauan state intelligence service says that the coups aims were "physically eliminating the head of the armed forces, overthrowing the interim head of state and dissolving the national assembly".[3]

It has been suggested by journalists that he was killed on the orders of military leaders who feared prosecution over the assassination of the president had Dabo won the election.[3] It is feared that if a power vacuum occurs Latin American drug cartels will be able to extend their influence over the country, which serves as a port for the shipping of cocaine to Europe.[2]

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