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Guinea-Bissau leader accuses convicted drug baron over failed coup

By AFP
11 February 2022   |   2:23 pm
Guinea-Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo on Thursday accused a former Guinean navy chief with links to the drug trade and two accomplices of being behind a failed coup in the west African nation on February 1.

A videograb made on February 2, 2022 shows Guinea-Bissau’s president Umaro Sissoco Embalo delivering a speech in Bissau on February 1, 2022. – Guinea-Bissau’s president Umaro Sissoco Embalo said he survived heavy fire for five hours during an attempted coup which he claimed killed or injured many people in the unstable west African country. Appearing unharmed and calm, he added that the failed bid was linked to decisions taken by him “notably to fight drug trafficking and corruption”. (Photo by Aliu EMBALO / AFPTV / AFP)

Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo on Thursday accused a former Guinean navy chief with links to the drug trade and two accomplices of being behind a failed coup in the west African nation on February 1.

Heavily armed men attacked government buildings in the capital Bissau while Embalo was chairing a cabinet meeting.

Embalo, 49, later told reporters that he had escaped the five-hour gun battle unharmed and that 11 people had been killed in the fighting.

On Thursday, he named former rear admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, who was head of the navy in the early 2000s, among three men he said had been arrested over the attack.

He named the other two as Tchamy Yala, also a former officer, and Papis Djeme, and said all three had been arrested.

Embalo linked the attack on government buildings to the transatlantic drug trade.

The former Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau is a hub for the trafficking of cocaine from Latin America into Africa.

“The hands holding the guns are people with links to the big drug cartels,” Embalo claimed

The three men named by the president were arrested in April 2013 aboard a boat off the coast of West Africa by undercover operatives from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The DEA officers posing as traffickers said the men had attempted to negotiate a deal to import cocaine into Guinea-Bissau and then redirect it to North America and Europe.

Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, who was described by the DEA as a drug baron, was sentenced to four years in prison in the US while Tchamy Yala and Papis Djeme received jail terms of five years and six-and-a-half years respectively.

All three returned to Guinea-Bissau after their release.