Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau: Government accuses close ally of Kumba Yala of organising attack on Interior Ministry

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BISSAU, 19 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - The recent assault on the Interior Ministry of Guinea-Bissau, which led to the death of security guards, was carried out by a group of dissident soldiers who had been financed by a close ally of former president Kumba Yala, Interior Minister Mumine Embalo said on Tuesday.

Embalo did not name the politician, but made clear through a series of indirect references that he was referring to Biaia Guab na Pana, a member of parliament belonging to Yala's Social Renovation Party (PRS).

The Interior Minister said this politician had financed the pre-dawn attack last Saturday. The attack itself had been led by a former state security official that worked in the port of Bissau, he added.

Embalo said four members of the insurgent group had been arrested, all of whom were former members of the parachute commando battalion of the army, who had recently been expelled for "acts of indiscipline".

Several others were still on the run, he added.

The attack on the Interior Ministry, which the army high command described as an "isolated incident" took place during campaigning for the second round vote in Guinea-Bissau's presidential election, which is due to take place on Sunday.

The election pits Malam Bacai Sanha, the official candidate of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) against Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira, a former military head of state who ruled this small West African country from 1980 to 1999.

Yala, who was overthrown by a 2003 coup, came third in the first round of voting on 19 June, but refused for several days to accept his defeat.

Embalo said the alleged organiser and financier of the attack on the Interior Ministry had taken part in a rowdy demonstration by supporters of Yala on 24 June to protest that the former president had been cheated of victory by fraud. The protest was finally broken up when police fired into the stone-throwing crowd. Three people were killed, according to hospital sources.

The Interior Minister said Pana had been named as the organiser and financier of last Saturday's attack by one of the participants in the assault who was subsequently arrested.

One theory being discussed in political circles in Guinea-Bissau is that the attack on the Interior Ministry was a straightforward act of revenge by Yala's supporters for the harsh treatment meted out to them by the police in last month's demonstration.

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