By Paul Ejime
There was heavy gunfire around Guinea Bissau’s State House (Presidential Palace) Tuesday aftetnoon with reported unspecified casualty.
The whereabouts of President Umaro Sissoco Mbalo, who was chairing a cabinet meeting was unknown.
There were also unusual movements of military vehicles near his residence.
State television was off the air but there was no immediate official statement on the confused situation which a Bissau resident contacted by phone simply described as “complicated. ”
A journalist interviewed on radio said government officials were at the Palace, while the workers were locked up in a section of the building with their telephones de-activated.
Markets and streets were deserted and some schools were closed with parents worried about the safety of their children and wards.
President Mbalo, a former Prime Minister and opposition leader won a run-off vote in January 2020 after a bitterly contested presidential election.
Last October, the military announced that it had foiled a plot to overthrow the government.
Guinea Bissau, with less than two million people, is no stranger to political instability with several coups since its independence from Portugal in 1974.
It is also hub for the trafficking of hard drugs.
Guinea Bissau belongs to the 15-nation ECOWAS region where the military have seized power in three of the member States – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – in the last 18 months.