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four dead after failed coup attempt

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The chief of staff of the army of Sao Tome and Principe announced Sunday, November 27 the death of four people who had been arrested at the end of the failed coup attempt and that the power assures having foiled in the night from Thursday to Friday.

“Four human lives were lost”said the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Olinto Paquete, quoted by the government news agency STP-Press.

Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada announced on Friday that he had foiled a coup attempt in this small Portuguese-speaking archipelago, considered a model of parliamentary democracy in Africa.

A four-man commando was captured on Friday after six hours of firefights at army headquarters, he said. “Four Citizens” with “12 Army Soldiers”tried to occupy military installations, indicated for his part the chief of staff.

Read also: Sao Tome and Principe: risky legislative elections for the center-left power

Regarding the four dead, three of them who had been “captured and neutralized”died of their “wounds”said Mr. Paquete on Sunday, without giving more details on the circumstances of these deaths which remain confused.

The fourth dead, Arlecio Costa, is a former Santomean mercenary from the sulphurous South African group “Buffalo Battalion”dismantled in 1993 by Pretoria, which had been accused on Friday by Mr. Trovoada of being one of the sponsors.

Here too, the circumstances of his death remain unclear: his arrest had been announced by the authorities on Friday and, on Sunday, Mr. Paquete explained that he died after having “jumped out of a vehicle”without giving further details.

In this context, a judicial source contacted by AFP indicated on condition of anonymity the opening of two investigations: the first concerning the attack on the army headquarters, the second on facts of “murder” and of ” torture “ against alleged perpetrators of the coup attempt.

A judicial source was also unable to say whether or not Mr. Costa had been arrested at army headquarters with the three other people.

UN fact-finding mission

In February 2009, then leader of a small opposition party, Mr. Costa had already been arrested and accused of being the leader of a thwarted coup attempt 12 days earlier.

At the end of a council of ministers held on Sunday, the government “strongly condemned” what he describes as “violent attempt to subvert the constitutional order”while ensuring that “all investigations will be carried out to determine the causes and circumstances of the deaths”in addition to the investigations to determine the responsibilities of the attempted coup.

In particular, the government urged hospital services to “properly preserve the bodies” of the victims, adding that a “international team”including a medical examiner, must join the archipelago to support the teams of investigators.

The President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Gilberto da Piedade Verissimo, and Abdou Abarry, Head of the United Nations Office for Central Africa, conducted a “fact-finding mission” this weekend in the archipelago, announced the two organizations in a joint press release.

Several other people, including the former number 1 of Parliament, Delfim Nevès, were arrested on Friday after being denounced by the commando responsible for the assault on the army headquarters, Mr. Trovoada said after the events.

Mr. Nevès was the president of the outgoing National Assembly and lost this function on November 11 during the installation of the new chamber resulting from the legislative elections of September 25, won by an absolute majority by the center-right party of Mr. Trovoada, Independent Democratic Action (ADI).

“Some do not accept the will of the ballot boxes”had dropped the latter.

Following several coup attempts, the last in 2003 and 2009, the parliamentary regime asserted itself in this poor archipelago, independent from Portugal since 1975, which allowed several alternations between two parties: the Movement of liberation of Sao Tome and Principe-Social Democratic Party (MLSTP-PSD, centre-left) and Mr. Trovoada’s ADI.

The World with AFP

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