Ecowas has called for peace in Guinea-Bissau, as gunfire was heard around the government palace in the capital Bissau yesterday, triggering concerns of a coup.
“Ecowas condemns the coup attempt and holds the military responsible for the physical integrity of President Umaro Sissoco Embalo and members of his government,” Ecowas said in a statement.
However later last night, social media posts from accounts linked to President Embalo said the situation was under government control and calm had returned to the capital Bissau.
“Calm returns to Bissau!” said a post on Embalo’s official Facebook account. It included undated photos of Embalo seated in an armchair, in conversation with military officers in uniform.
A Twitter post from an unverified account in his name said he was well.
“The situation is under government control. I thank the population of Guinea-Bissau and everyone beyond our borders who has been worrying for my government and myself,” it said.
The account did not have the blue tick indicating Twitter had verified its authenticity, but it did show a large number of past posts apparently from Embalo, reporting on routine government business.
Phone calls placed by Reuters to members of government seeking to clarify the situation went unanswered.
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on his official website he had spoken to Embalo by telephone and had “conveyed his vehement condemnation of these attacks against the constitutional order of Guinea-Bissau”.
Prior to those developments, the African Union had said some government members were being detained and had called on the military to release them, without giving details.
Political instability has blighted Guinea-Bissau for decades, with nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply concerned” by the reports from Guinea-Bissau, a spokesman said earlier in the day.
Sissoco Embalo had begun chairing an extraordinary cabinet meeting at around 10am, entering the Government Palace with a heavy security detail, a diplomatic source said. While he was present in the building, gunfire began outside.