A grimly familiar sequence of gunfire in the capital, military communiqués on the radio and the arrest of government officials is repeating itself in the small coastal state of Guinea-Bissau — apparently the latest West African nation to succumb to a coup d’état. A second round of voting in presidential elections was scheduled to take place later this month, but on Friday, the heavy favorite, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., was in army custody along with other senior officials. The military, which has dominated politics in the country ever since it fought its way to independence from Portugal in 1974, announced it did not intend to stay in power and called a meeting of political parties late Friday. But military officials did not say what their plans were for the nation of 1.6 million people, which is heavily dependent on aid and considered a major transit hub for Latin American drugs. Once again, in a country long accustomed to coups, the trigger was apparently the army’s perception that its prerogatives were threatened, diplomats said.Full Article: Guinea-Bissau Coup Removes Presidential Front-Runner - NYTimes.com.
Carlos Gomes Jr.
In Guinea-Bissau, soldiers reportedly sealed off the parts of the capital on Thursday and ringed the home of the prime minister, lobbing grenades. The unrest comes weeks before an election once seen as a chance for one of the most troubled states in West Africa to overcome its tumultuous past. “I am prevented from leaving,” an unnamed diplomat told the Associated Press on Thursday from his office in Bissau. “The downtown area has been sealed off by the military … I can also tell you that all Guinea-Bissau radio has been taken off the air since 8 p.m. local time and the whereabouts of the prime minister and interim president are unknown.” The impoverished country has a history pocked with military coups and revolts since it won its independence from Portugal. Its first president was overthrown by his army chief, who in turn was ousted after he dismissed his own army chief, starting a civil war. Two more coups followed. Guinea-Bissau has been readying for a runoff election between the prime minister and a former president later this month, trying to replace its late leader Malam Bacai Sanha.Full Article: Military unrest mars hopes for Guinea-Bissau election - latimes.com.
An election official in Guinea-Bissau says a presidential runoff will be held next month. Electoral commission president Desejado Lima da Costa said Wednesday the vote will be held April 22. Former prime minister Carlos Gomes Jr. took nearly 49 percent of the first vote. Challenger Kumba Yala came second with about 23 percent. Yala has previously said he won’t participate in the runoff because he believes the poll earlier this month was fraudulent. It’s not known if he will participate in the April runoff.
For the second time in two years, voters in Guinea-Bissau are heading to the polls to choose a president for their small, coup-prone nation. In 2009, the country held an emergency election following the assassination of longtime President Joao Bernardo Vieira. Newly elected leader Malam Bacai spent the better part of his term shuttling between hospitals to treat a mysterious illness. He died in January, prompting the current election.