G-Bissau troops 'don't want power'

2012-04-13 14:59

Bissau - An unidentified military commander said on Friday that soldiers who attacked the prime minister's home don't want to take power in Guinea-Bissau, claiming they intervened to halt foreign aggression in the tiny coup-prone African nation.

The statement came hours after the state radio station's transmission was cut and explosions were heard throughout the capital. A group representing West African nations has called Thursday's violence in the tiny nation, which is a transhipment point for South American cocaine bound for Europe, "a reprehensible coup attempt".

It came weeks before the presidential runoff election, which Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was favoured to win. Guinea-Bissau's president died in January of complications from diabetes, leaving an interim leader in charge of the chronically unstable country. The whereabouts of interim President Raimundo Pereira and of Gomes were unknown.

In the communique, the military commander claimed that Gomes was going to allow troops from Angola, another former Portuguese colony in Africa, to attack Guinea-Bissau military forces.

Angola sent about 200 troops to Guinea-Bissau in March 2011 to help reform the country's armed forces as part of a bilateral military agreement, according to Angolan state news agency Angop. Their mission recently ended but the contingent is still in Bissau, Angop said without providing further details.

"The Military Command does not want power but it was forced to act in this way to defend itself from the diplomatic maneuvers of the Guinea-Bissau government, which aims to annihilate the [country's] armed forces using foreign military force," the communique said, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

It claimed it possesses a "secret document" drawn up by the Guinea-Bissau government mandating Angola to attack Guinea-Bissau's military. It was impossible to independently verify the claim.

Angolan Defence Minister Candido Pereira Van-Dunem said on Thursday in Luanda that his country would "continue to provide full support" to Guinea-Bissau, with which Angola has "excellent ties," Angop reported. He said a calendar for the return of Angolan troops to Luanda was being negotiated with the Bissau authorities.