"Army troops shot and killed the president of the tiny West African country of Guinea-Bissau early Monday, apparently in reprisal for a bomb attack that killed the army chief of staff the night before, according to diplomats in the region.Guinea-Bissau is one of Africa’s poorest countries.Guinea-Bissau gained independency from Portugal in 1974. It has an estimated population of 1.586 million, is bordered by Guinea and Senegal. There was a civil war in 1998 and 1999, a military coup in 2003 followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in the following years, that brought to power recently assassinated president Viera.
The president, João Bernardo Vieira, was killed around 5 a.m. in an attack outside his house. Army troops blamed him for the death of the army chief, Gen. Batista Tagme Na Wai, in an explosion on Sunday night, diplomats said.
“Nobody knows who is in charge,” said one diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under customary diplomatic rules. “Nobody knows what the army will do.”
NY Times: Soldiers Kill Guinea-Bissau’s President After Death of Army Chief, Diplomats Say, March 2, 2009
Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest African countries: 2/3rds of the population live in poverty, a per capita GDP of 484 Dollars (I'll introduce a new term now: the "Purchasing Power Parity" is the GDP corrected by equalizing the purchasing power, or shorter and simply, taking into account the prize level of the country in estimating the GDP - and therefore providing better data for comparing the standard of living) and ranks 171 among the 179 countries on the Human Development Index list. In July 2009, the International Crisis Group released a report predicting that it might soon become a so-called "narc state" - since the trade of heroin (as a transit point between Latin America and Europe) undermines the power of the state and might make it a haven for terrorism. The report is very interesting to read: it blames the lack of administrative structure built during Portuguese rule.
"Consequently, the country’s infrastructure, bureaucracy, administration, political institutions and human- and social-development indexes remain largely unaltered since the first years of independence."It calls for a reform of the military structures of the country: in a way already predicting what happened in March 2009. As reported by African newspapers, speaker of Parliament Pereira has assumed the role of interim President. Both assassinations (of the President and the Army Chief of Staff) were condemned by both the African Union and the UN Security Council. The statement of the latter mentions the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, an avisory body founded to assure that countries emerging from war or civil war do not slide back into chaos.
Afrik: Guinea-Bissau: Military chief killed, President follows suit, March 2, 2009
Afrol News: Bissau’s interim president affirms democratic rule, March 4, 2009