Whereabouts of Guinea-Bissau premier, interim president not clear
Central Asia News.Net
Friday 13th April, 2012
Soldiers have taken control of Guinea-Bissau's capital and are holding both the prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior and interim president Raimundo Pereira, a turn of events strongly condemned by UN Security Council
Bissau - Soldiers have taken control of Guinea-Bissau's capital and are holding both the prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior and interim president Raimundo Pereira, a turn of events strongly condemned by UN Security Council which has called for restoration of government.
The front-runner in the contentious presidential runoff election that are scheduled for April 29, Gomes was seized in a military attack on his home Thursday evening, AFP reported.
Pereira too was also being held, while heavily armed soldiers patrolled Bissau on the day after their coup, in which they seized ruling party headquarters, the state radio station, the finance and justice ministries and the headquarters of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).
A shadowy "military command" insisted in a statement it was not interested in power and said it had acted because of an alleged "secret deal" with Angola, which has 200 troops in the country to help reform the military.
A possible fear of the military officials was that the Angolans would interfere with cocaine trafficking.
Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the current president of the U.N. Security Council, said that the whereabouts of the top leaders are not clear.
She said the council has "condemned the military action and urged the immediate restoration of civilian authority."
Violence had been feared for days in the former Portuguese colony, which has seen half a dozen coups or attempted coups since 1980 and has become a hub for drug-running between South America and Europe.
The timing of Thursday's power grab was not accidental, said Martin Roberts, a West Africa analyst with IHS Global Insight.
"It looks like what they don't want is the person who probably was going to become president to win the second round," he said, reports AP news agency.
Gomes had garnered 49 per cent of the vote in the first round election on March 18, and campaigning for the second round was supposed to start on Friday.
Guinea-Bissau's land border with neighboring Senegal was closed Friday.
Since independence in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has seen no president complete full term in office due to constant and often deadly conflicts between the state and the army.
The latest election was held after the last president, Malam Bacai Sanha, died in January following a long illness.