Military coup leaders in Guinea-Bissau have said they do not plan to cling to power and that they had intervened to halt 'foreign aggression.' The army alleges a deal existed between the government and Angola.
The Guinea-Bissau army said on Friday it had launched a coup because of a government pact with Angola to have foreign troop stationed in the country.
A communique from an unnamed military commander broadcast on state radio, claimed the move had been necessary to stop "foreign aggression."
The statement said that Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr. aimed to extend the deployment of Angolan troops into Guinea-Bissau.
"This accord aims to legitimize the presence of foreign troops, namely the Angolan military mission, in order to protect the government in times of crisis," it said.
The coup effort comes just two weeks ahead of a presidential runoff vote, which Gomes was expected to win.
Shared colonial past
The presence of Angolan troops is unpopular with the army in Guinea-Bissau, which shares a Portuguese colonial history with Angola. Around 200 Angolans were first deployed last year, with Angola this week claiming they would be withdrawn soon.
The attack on the former prime minister's home took place late on Thursday, as the military sealed off the city's downtown area.
Soldiers threw grenades at the house and took over the ruling party headquarters and the national radio station.
There was initially no indication of the whereabouts of Gomes from the coup leaders. However, his wife told the AFP news agency that he had been arrested at the time of the attack on his residence. On Friday, the Associated Press quoted a military press attache who said soldiers had detained the prime minister.
The regional Economic Community of West African States condemned the action "rigorously."
rc/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)