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Vol 39 No 13

Published 26th June 1998

Guinea Bissau

Mane's men

An army mutiny has quickly become a security problem for the neighbouring states

Demoralised troops, Casamance and cannabis smuggling have all fanned the flames of Guinea Bissau’s army mutiny. It has now engulfed the sub-region in the crisis, drawing Senegal, Guinea and Gambia into the battle for power in Bissau. Strapped for cash and fearful of a sweeping purge, Bissau soldiers have used proceeds from arms smuggling to the separatist Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance (fighting for independence from Senegal) and from cannabis smuggling (the area boasts some of the best grades in the region) as a self-financing mechanism. The links between Bissau’ s soldiers and the Casamance people remain strong: soldiers and their families were helped by the Casamançais during their struggle against the Portuguese colonialists in the 1970s. Such sentiments have bolstered Brigadier Ansumane Mane’s rebellion against President João Bernardo ‘Nino’ Vieira’s government, which was launched on 7 June.

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