Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
The cocaine cartels that used West Africa, and Guinea-Bissau in particular, as a conduit to Europe were long accused of worsening the chaos in one of the region’s poorest and most troubled states by buying off some factions of the security forces and political leaders.
But if so, things may have gone too far.
In less than a year, Guinea-Bissau has lost President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira (dead), the head of the army (dead), the head of the navy (fled), a former defence minister (dead) and a candidate to replace the slain president in the June 28 election (dead). And those are just some of the figures at the top.
Whichever of Guinea-Bissau’s leaders might have been involved in the drugs trade and which were trying to fight it, the removal of such a swathe of the leadership appears for now at least to have knocked the traffickers off balance too.
from Global News Journal:
“Nino” Vieira’s past as an old soldier was never far from the surface. It can have surprised few in Guinea-Bissau that the old coup maker’s death came at the hands of troops who turned against him in a country perpetually on the edge of failure because of military squabbles driven by centuries-old ethnic rivalries and the newer influence of drug smuggling cartels.
Covering the campaign for Guinea-Bissau’s first multiparty election in 1994, I found President Joao Bernardo Vieira far from being the most talkative of politicians. Sometimes actions said more. After one campaign stop, and in view of attendant dignitaries, Nino grabbed a military aide by the ear after he had caused offence and twisted it until he squealed in pain.