Guinea-Bissau Ex-Navy Chief Arrested over Recent Coup Attempt

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau has accused a former Guinean navy chief with links to the drug trade and two accomplices of being behind a failed coup earlier this month.

On February 1, heavily armed men attacked the government buildings in the capital, Bissau, while Embalo was chairing a cabinet meeting. 

Embalo launched an investigation and described the attack as a well-funded and tightly planned assassination attempt.

Embalo later said that ex-navy chief Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto and his aides Tchamy Yala and Papis Djeme orchestrated the coup, and have been arrested.

The three men were arrested in April 2013 onboard a boat off the coast of West Africa by undercover operatives from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for their involvement in a high-profile US drug sting and conspiring to ship cocaine into the US.

The three pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a US court, and Tchuto was sentenced to four years in prison in the US while Tchamy Yala and Papis Djeme received jail terms of five years and six-and-a-half years, respectively. 

All three returned to Guinea-Bissau after their release.

“The hands holding the guns are people with links to the big drug cartels,” Embalo said.

“During the coup, I see them. I see them with my eyes. They want to make a coup and kill me and the prime minister and all the government,” Embalo added.

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