News24

Gambia detains Guinea Bissau refugees

2012-05-29 20:07

Banjul - Gambia's immigration ministry said on Tuesday Guinea-Bissau's former army chief, elections chief and ousted interior minister were being detained "for security reasons" after fleeing to Banjul.

Former army chief Jose Zamora Induta, elections commission chief Desejado Da Costa and Fernando Gomes, who was interior minister in the government overthrown in the country's latest coup last month, fled Guinea-Bissau over the weekend.

Gambia's immigration department spokesperson Ba Ensa Jawara told AFP the three, who were reported to have passed through Senegal's southern Casamance region, "arrived in the country early on Saturday morning and are currently being held".

He said he could not give further details on the reasons for detaining the three.

"For security reasons, they are currently being held," he added.

The three had sought refuge in the European Union mission in Bissau after the April 12 coup, which aborted a presidential election ahead of a second round of voting.

Induta was ousted as military chief two years ago by General Antonio Indjai, considered the man behind the latest coup in the west African nation, where decades of power struggles between the army and state have caused chronic instability.

Last week coup leaders vowed to return to their barracks after transitional authorities formed a new government including a colonel who joined the coup but excluding the former ruling party.

A regional peace force has also started deploying in the country - which has become a hub for cocaine smuggling from Latin America to Europe - in an attempt to help the transitional authorities stabilise it and organise elections in a year.