Guinea-Bissau president Assassinated

DEMOCRACY was again dealt a blow yesterday as President Joao Bernardo Vieira of Guinea-Bissau was shot dead by men said to be soldiers less than 12 hours after the killing of the country’s Chief of Army Staff, Tagme Na Waie.


João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira (27 April 1939  – 2 March 2009) was the President of Guinea-Bissau from 1980 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2009. After seizing power in 1980, Vieira ruled for 19 years, and he won a multiparty presidential election in 1994. He was ousted at the end of the 1998–1999 civil war and went into exile. He made a political comeback in 2005 after winning the Presidential election.

The development is coming at a time the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders are trying to restore normalcy to the sister country – Guinea Conakry – through the efforts of the International Contact Group on Guinea (ICG-G).

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the ECOWAS chairman, has described the killings “in the strongest terms as reprehensible” and “as acts that undermine democracy, peace and stability in Guinea-Bissau. The fragile political situation in Guinea-Bissau has been further weakened by these events. This is regretted as it comes at a time when the West African region is making a forward march in the development of democratic governance.”


Renegade soldiers last November attacked the presidential palace with automatic weapons in a failed coup attempt.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported yesterday that the military high command in the country had said that there was no coup under way.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the world’s poorest states. It has a history of coups and has become a major transit route for smuggling cocaine to Europe lately.


Agency reports have it that President Vieira was killed by the army as he tried to flee his house which was being attacked by a group of soldiers close to the chief of staff, Tagme Na Waie, early yesterday morning. The military spokesman, Zamora Induta, told AFP News Agency that all was calm. But he accused the late Vieira of being responsible for the death of the army chief of staff.


The president’s death is seen as a retaliatory measure since Vieira had admitted giving the orders for the shooting of Gen. Na Waie. The president’s house was largely destroyed in the assault and later looted by soldiers while the military had taken the late president’s wife and family to the United Nations representative in Bissau. Chief of Staff General Tagme died after a blast late on Sunday that destroyed part of the military headquarters.


Source – the guardian

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