June 6, 2023

Guinea Bissau president Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló survives latest coup attempt in West Africa

Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló
Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló

President Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló of Guinea Bissau on Tuesday survived the latest coup attempt in West Africa, just a week after a military takeover in Burkina Faso led to the arrest and detention of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

It’s the ninth coup or attempted coup in the small West African nation of 1.6 million people since independence from Portugal in 1974, and only one democratically elected president has completed a full term in office, media reports noted.

Sissoco, 49, was presiding over an extraordinary cabinet meeting in the capital Bissau when heavy gunfire began to ring out nearby, and as the confusion and chaos lasted, the president’s whereabouts were unknown for hours raising concerns that an attempted putsch was underway.

Local and international and international media said the coup appeared to have failed.

Sissoco won the presidential election in 2020 but opposition leaders alleged fraud. He was even sworn into office before the supreme court had ratified the vote, leading critics to allege that a coup had taken place.

The plethora of coups in West Africa has been condemned by local and international bodies, and some countries are already taking actions.

For instance, the United States government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) on Monday announced that it had halted activity related to Burkina Faso’s $450 million compact following the January 23 military takeover and the arrest and detention of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights.

“Burkina Faso military officers claim to have suspended the constitution and dissolved the government and national assembly. These actions contradict MCC’s commitment to democratic governance and upholding the rule of law – principles that underpin the agency’s rigorous criteria for selection. All MCC partner countries are expected to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to these principles to remain eligible for MCC investments. MCC again calls on all parties to pursue a democratic solution while ensuring the safety and security of all Burkinabes,” MCC said in a statement.

It added that MCC first established a partnership with the Government of Burkina Faso in 2005. Following the successful completion of a $480 million compact focused on agriculture, land tenure, roads, and girls’ education in 2014, MCC and the Government of Burkina Faso signed a second, $450 million compact on Aug. 13, 2020, which is designed to strengthen the country’s energy sector.

Prior to MCC pausing compact activity, the Government of Burkina Faso was on track to launch the compact’s three electricity-focused projects in September 2022.

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