AU Chief in Bissau After Coup Scare

“The events that occurred in your country have prompted me to seek meetings with the authorities to review the situation,” AU Commission chair Jean Ping told reporters at the airport here.

“The situation is a source of concern for the African Union, that is why I am here, to help the country return to stability,” he said, urging the country’s leaders, military and population to work for peace.

Ping is expected to hold talks with Speaker Raimundo Pereira, who is the interim head of state in the absence of President Malam Bacai Sanha, currently undergoing medical care in France.

The AU chief is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior.

On Monday, Guinea Bissau’s army chief, Antonio Indjai, said loyalist forces had thwarted a coup bid masterminded by the country’s navy chief, who is now under arrest.

One soldier was killed the following night as soldiers combed the seaside capital for suspected coup-plotters and a police commander wanted over the alleged rebellion was subsequently shot dead.

Guinea-Bissau’s history, since independence from Portugal in 1974, has been studded with coups, mutinies and political murders. The small state has also become a drug-trafficking hub, mostly for cocaine from South America to Europe.- SAPA