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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
G Bissau mutineers deny coup plot
Gen Verissimo Seabre Correia (file photo)
The general led a bloodless military coup in September 2003
Mutinous soldiers in Guinea-Bissau, who killed the head of the armed forces, have issued their demands.

They include payment of outstanding wages, an increase in pay and better living conditions in barracks.

General Verissimo Correia Seabre, who led a military coup a year ago, and his colleague, were beaten to death.

Talks to resolve the dispute, which former colonial power Portugal has described as an attempted coup, have continued at the navy headquarters.

"The situation is grave because there is obviously a coup attempt," Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio said.

But this was denied by the mutineers.

"This is a pay demand... not an uprising," the rebellious troops said in a statement.

They said conditions were "inhuman" in barracks, with hunger widespread.

Following what Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior called a revolt on Wednesday morning, the capital, Bissau is calm, a BBC correspondent says.

Businesses have reopened, although everything is quiet and the troops, have returned to their barracks.

Dialogue

A delegation from the West African regional body Ecowas, along with foreign ministers from several Portuguese-speaking countries, are due to arrive on Friday to help with negotiations.

Meanwhile, the East Timorese foreign minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jose Ramos-Horta, says he will travel to Guinea-Bissau to help resolve the crisis on Saturday.

Regular troops in Guinea-Bissau's capital Bissau
The unrest comes a year after a coup deposed President Yala

The mutinous soldiers are demanding pay they are owed for taking part in the United Nations' mission in Liberia.

Some 650 soldiers from Guinea-Bissau made up a contingent of West African troops sent to Liberia in August last year for nine months, AP reports.

They say they have only received their first three months of service and accuse army chiefs of pocketing their salaries.

But the leader of the renegade soldiers is the inspector general of the armed forces, who was not part of the battalion sent to Liberia, says the BBC Portuguese service journalist Ligio Monteiro.

State funerals will be held on Sunday for Gen Seabre and Lieutenant Colonel Domingos Barros, who were beaten to death by their captors at the navy headquarters on Wednesday morning, a BBC correspondent in Bissau says.

The commanders of the air force, navy and army have not been seen since the unrest began, he says.

Coup

Since Friday there have rumours of a coup plot, Ligio Monteiro said.

President Henrique Rosa attended a church service on Sunday with unusually tight security, he said.

In September last year, former President Kumba Yala, who had repeatedly postponed elections, was overthrown by Gen Seabre.

Subsequent parliamentary elections in March were won by Mr Gomes from the PGCI party that had ruled the country from independence in 1974 until a civil war erupted in the late 1990s.

President Rosa, who was appointed interim president after last year's coup, is due to remain in power until presidential elections in 2005.

Some members of the current government have accused Mr Yala of being behind the unrest.

His house in Bissau has reportedly been surrounded by loyalist troops.


SEE ALSO:
Amnesty for Bissau coup-makers
12 Apr 04  |  Africa
Ex-rulers win Guinea-Bissau poll
05 Apr 04  |  Africa
Q&A: Guinea-Bissau coup
14 Sep 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea-Bissau
17 Jul 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guinea-Bissau
06 Apr 04  |  Country profiles


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