Friday, June 5, 2009

Guinea-Bissau: Bissau army kills 'coup-plotters'

The security forces in Guinea-Bissau have shot dead at least four people, including two senior politicians they accused of plotting a coup.

Baciro Dabo, a minister and candidate in this month's presidential elections, was killed at his home.

The authorities say he resisted arrest but his allies said he was asleep with his wife when he was shot.

Former Defence Minister Helder Proenca and two of his guards were also killed in the unstable West African country.

There are unconfirmed reports that former Prime Minister Faustino Fudut Imbali was also killed. His wife says he was taken away by the military, which accuses him of being involved in the alleged coup plot.

The 28 June election was called after President Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by soldiers in March.

The BBC's Will Ross says that election may now be postponed.

He says the army looks set to continue to play a destabilising role in a country which has been plagued by coups since independence in 1975.

In recent years, Guinea-Bissau has also become a key transit point for trafficking cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

Prosecution fears?

A statement from the state intelligence services said several other politicians - all members of the ruling PAIGC party - were detained.

"This was about nipping a coup attempt in the bud. Among the authors of this coup some came quietly while others tried to resist, that is why they were killed," it said.

"We have material proof that this coup attempt was aimed at physically eliminating the head of the armed forces, overthrowing the interim head of state and dissolving the national assembly."

Journalist Jean Gomis told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Mr Dabo, the minister of territorial administration, was a close ally of former President Vieira.

He says that high-ranking members of the military may have feared that Mr Dabo could prosecute those responsible for killing the president if he won the elections.

Mr Dabo, 50, was a senior member of the PAIGC but was contesting the election as an independent.

He was one of 13 presidential candidates.

Mr Vieira was hacked to death with machetes on 2 March by soldiers who blamed him for a bomb which had killed the army chief of staff hours earlier.

No-one has been prosecuted over the killing.

Source: BBC

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