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Guinea-Bissau army displays weapons haul after coup attempt

The Guinea-Bissau army on Wednesday showed off an arsenal of automatic rifles, rocket launchers and ammunition which it said had been seized since what the government described as an attempted coup last week. Army Chief of Staff, General Biague Na Ntam, presented dozens of weapons as well as communications equipment to the press in the capital Bissau. Violence had erupted between members of the national guard and special forces of the presidential guard on the night of November 30 and into the morning of December 1 in Bissau, leaving two people dead. President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who was in Dubai attending the COP28 climate conference, arrived back in Bissau at the weekend and announced that an “attempted coup d’etat” had taken place. On Monday he dissolved parliament saying the West African nation had been plunged into a new crisis but without giving any date for fresh elections. According to General Ntam, the weapons put on display Wednesday were mainly taken from members of the National Guard during clashes with the army and the mopping up operation that followed. Meanwhile Embalo’s long-time rival and parliamentary speaker Domingos Simoes Pereira reiterated his opposition to the dissolution of parliament. “Despite the attempted coup, there can be no question of dissolving the Assembly our constitution is clear,” he told a meeting of the coalition led by his party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Voters went to the polls in June, after Embalo, president since 2020, first dissolved parliament which he described as a “space for political guerrilla warfare and conspiracy”. “For us, there is no such thing as dissolution”, said Pereira, speaking at the Bissau headquarters of the PAIGC, the party that led the liberation struggle in Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony. Pereira said that security forces had been deployed at the National Assembly, but added that he would “summon the deputies so that they can see for themselves that they are prevented from accessing the National Assembly, which means that it is a constitutional coup d’état”. Although he dissolved the parliament, Embalo has kept the prime minister in office, while taking over the interior and defence portfolios himself. The head of the army, who has remained loyal to the president, said on Wednesday that the National Guard was now under military control.

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