Former G.Bissau army chief, minister flee

By AFP
By AFP

5/26/2012 10:00:05 PM -

ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal (AFP) - Former Guinea-Bissau armed forces chief Jose Zamora Induta has fled to a neighbouring country following the coup in his troubled country last month, officials said on Saturday.

A local government official in Senegal said Induta, who had voiced fears for his life after another top military official was assassinated, had arrived with three other people in the Casamance region earlier this week and had since left for Gambia.

The official said Induta and his unnamed companions had stayed in a hotel in the main Casamance town of Ziguinchor overnight Thursday and had left for Banjul the following morning, denying earlier reports they had been arrested.

A Guinea-Bissau army officer said Induta had fled to Senegal along with elections commission chief Desejado Lima Da Costa and Fernando Gomes, who was interior minister in the government overthrown in the latest coup last month.

He said all three had taken refuge in the European Union mission in the capital Bissau following the coup and had crossed the border into Senegal without authorisation.

A diplomatic source in Bissau who is close to Gomes said he and Induta had reportedly already arrived in Gambia.

Induta was ousted as military chief two years ago by General Antonio Indaj, considered the man behind the April coup, which was launched in between the first and second rounds of a presidential election.

Induta sought refuge in the EU mission after the murder of former military intelligence chief Samba Djalo on the day of the first round vote on March 18.

He was joined there by Da Costa and Gomes after the April 12 coup.

The army vowed Wednesday to return to its barracks after transitional authorities formed a new government including a colonel who joined the coup but excluding the former ruling party.

A regional peace force has also started deploying in the country -- which has become a hub for cocaine smuggling from Latin America to Europe -- in an attempt to help the transitional authorities stabilise it and organise elections in a year.