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PM vows not to resign after brief arrest

Latest update : 2010-04-02

Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior (pictured) vowed not to resign following his meeting with President Malam Bacai Sanha Friday. The situation in the country is unclear after an army mutiny earlier this week.

AFP - Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior emerged from urgent talks with President Malam Bacai Sanha on Friday, saying he would not resign after an army mutiny.
   
Arrested and detained by renegade soldiers, Gomes Junior was escorted to the presidency for the meeting with Sanha while still appearing to be under guard.
   
"I will not resign because I was democratically elected. I consider what happened on Thursday as an incident," he told journalists after meeting with Sanha to resolve the current situation.
   
"The situation is now stable. I can assure you that institutions will return to their normal functions."
   
Earlier in the day government ministers in the troubled west African country held a meeting, condemning the "use of force" by the military.
   
The soldiers also arrested the army chief and at one stage threatened to kill the prime minister in the latest turmoil in the former Portuguese colony, which has lurched from coup to coup since independence in the 1970s.
   
The UN secretary general and international powers all condemned the events in a nation which has become an important transit point for South American cocaine to European and North American markets.
   
Gomes Junior, popularly known as "Cadogo", was detained at his office at government headquarters and later taken to his home where he has been guarded by renegade soldiers and police.
   
Army chief General Jose Zamora Induta and other officers were also detained.
   
Members of the cabinet held what they called "an extraordinary session" to look into Thursday's events, which they said in a statement had threatened constitutional order.
   
"Members of government expressed their support and their attachment to the prime minister and firmly condemned the use of force as a means to resolve problems," said the statement.
   
While troops had been visible on the streets of Bissau on Thursday, along with demonstrations by some supporters of the prime minister, tensions appeared to have eased Friday.
   
There were no soldiers patrolling the streets and the national radio station returned to normal programmes after interrupting broadcasts to play military music during the detention of the prime minister.
   
The self-appointed new army chief, General Antonio Indjai, at one stage threatened to kill Gomes on Thursday. In a brief telephone interview with AFP, he said: "Cadogo is a criminal and he must be tried as one."
   
But Indjai, previously the deputy army chief of staff, later sought to play down the events, saying the military still answered to the political authorities.
   
President Sanha, who did not appear during the show of force, later spoke out saying the apparent coup attempt was "a confusion between soldiers that reached the government."
   
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for a peaceful resolution, while a statement issued by his special representative for Guinea-Bissau spoke of the prime minister's "detention and subsequent release."
   
The African Encounter for the Defence of Human Rights, based in Dakar, said "the army is the real gangrene in Guinea-Bissau, it controls, regulates and hands out summary justice."
   
"The cumulative effect of vendetta, impunity, amnesia and repressed memories has enabled the historical locking in to an infernal cycle of assassinations and vengeance," the regional rights group said.
   
The former Portuguese colony has seen repeated coups since independence in 1974.
   
A new crisis erupted in March 2009 when president Joao Bernardo Vieira was murdered by troops, apparently in revenge for the killing hours earlier of the armed forces chief.
   
The country's years of instability and institutional weaknesses have made it an easy target for druglords who traffic cocaine by air and sea, often escaping detection in Guinea-Bissau's porous coast, maze of mangroves and scattered archipelago.
 

 

Date created : 2010-04-02

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