Military Takes Over Ruling Party HQ in Guinea Bissau

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 10:00 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

/// re-running for web ///

Eyewitnesses say that Guinea-Bissau's military has taken control of the ruling party headquarters and national radio station while shots and rocket fire were heard in the capital.

Soldiers also occupied central streets on Thursday, including the avenue where outgoing prime minister and presidential candidate Carlos Gomes, Junior lives. But it is not clear if Mr. Gomes was at home.

The U.S. embassy in Dakar, Senegal, which also covers Guinea Bissau, issued an emergency message to U.S. citizens in the neighboring country to stay away from the downtown area of Bissau. It says the reported violence in the city could be a result of a coup d'etat or a coup attempt, and that an increased potential for political instability and civil or military unrest remains high.

The incidents occur on the eve of the start of the electoral campaign for the runoff election in Guinea Bissau's presidential campaign.

Guinea-Bissau's opposition — led by second-place finisher Kumba Yala — has called a boycott of the April 29 runoff vote and warned against campaigning. Yala was one of five candidates that claimed the first-round vote was rigged.

The candidates were vying to replace the late president, Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January after a long illness.

Since winning independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has struggled through a dictatorship, three coups and the 2009 assassination of a president.