MS Risk Blog

Failed Coup in Guinea-Bissau (2 Feb 2022)

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo survived an attempted coup on Tuesday 1 February, though he said that many members of the security forces had been killed repelling an attack on democracy that may have been linked to drug trafficking. Heightened security is likely to persist in Guinea-Bissau through at least mid-February after the foiled coup attempt against President Embalo’s government. Official government sources indicate that at least six people – four attackers and two guards – were killed and several others were injured during gunfire exchanges near the Government Palace in the capital, Bissau.

Earlier in the day, heavy gunfire rang out near a government compound where the president was chairing a meeting. The situation remained unclear for several hours, during which both the African Union (AU) and West African bloc ECOWAS condemned what they called “an attempted coup.” At around 17:20, military forces loyal to the Embalo government reportedly entered the Palace of Government and also deployed to several locations within the nation’s capital. They established a security perimeter around the palace, with troops also stationed near the Palace of Justice.

Appearing on Tuesday evening in a video posted on the presidency’s Facebook page, President Embalo stated that attackers had tried to enter the compound just after the cabinet meeting but had been repelled. He went on to say that “it wasn’t just a coup. It was an attempt to kill the president, the prime minister and all the cabinet,” adding that the attack “was well prepared and organized and could also be related to people involved in drug trafficking,” giving no further details. Guinea-Bissau is viewed by the United Nations as a major waypoint for Latin American cocaine headed for Europe. US and European authorities have long suspected that some in the country’s military are involved in the drug trade. During the video on Tuesday, President Embalo suggested that the army was not involved in the attack, stating, “I can assure you that no camp joined this attempted coup. It was isolated. It is linked to people we have fought against,” without elaborating. He also disclosed that arrests had begun of people involved, tough he did not disclose how many were detained. At around 10:00 on Tuesday morning, President Embalo had begun chairing an extraordinary cabinet meeting, entering the government palace with a heavy security detail, a diplomatic source reported. While he was present in the building, gunfire began outside. The cabinet meeting was being held to prepare for a forthcoming ECOWAS summit on 3 February in response to last week’s military takeover in Burkina Faso.


Heightened security is likely to persist in Guinea-Bissau through at least mid-February after the foiled coup attempt against President Embalo’s government. Forces in Bissau are likely to maintain an elevated security posture until the situation stabilizes. Additional clashes between rival forces cannot currently be ruled out. Additional security measures, including checkpoints and random searches of vehicles and pedestrians may be carried out in the coming days. Authorities may also impose an overnight curfew, should the situation destabilize. Anyone currently in Guinea-Bissau should shelter in place, maintain close contact with their diplomatic representation, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. This includes possible curfew-related restrictions. Government buildings, security installations, large groupings of police and soldiers, and any demonstrations should be avoided.