Guinea-Bissau News: Elections marred by assassination


Soldiers walk on a bridge in Bissau on March 19, 2012 as officials tally the votes of the presidential elections.



Guinea-Bissau experienced a calm day of voting Sunday in an election that could help stabilize the country, known for coup d’états and drug trafficking. But hours after the polls closed, former spy chief Colonel Samba Diallo was shot, prompting election officials to amp up security as they count the ballots, the AP reports.

Joao Biague, the director general of the judicial police said Diallo was shot at least five times and the killing is under investigation, according to the AP. And while police did not give further details, witnesses told reporters Diallo was shot in a bar near his house by men in military uniforms. The “assailants appeared to be renegade soldiers,” according to Voice of America.

A witness told AP that Diallo received a late-night phone call, and when he went outside to take the call he was mowed down with gunfire.

Daba Na Wagna, coordinator of a joint military-police election security team said Diallo's murder was "deplorable because there was a loss of human life, but the army was not involved from any angle," according to AFP.

Polling Chief Desejado Lima da Costa told AFP the killing was “an isolated case” that had “nothing to do with the electoral process."

It is not clear why Diallo was shot, but he was jailed for eight months in 2010, after being accused of involvement in a 2009 bombing that killed the army chief. Then-President Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed in a revenge attack hours later, BBC reports.

The election came after Guinea-Bissau’s last president, Malam Bacai Sanha, died January after a long illness. Nine candidates vied for the presidential seat Sunday, and provisional results are expected to be announced by the end of the week.

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Political analyst Rui Landim told AFP that stability in Guinea-Bissau could depend on these elections. "There is a lot of concern and apprehension," she said. "If everything is handled peacefully we can save the stability, but for now there is a risk that things degenerate."

Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries on earth, with a long history of military coups. Drug trafficking is likely its most “lucrative trade,” according the CIA World Factbook, and high level government officials are believed to be involved.

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