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‘Ex-Guinea Bissau army chief, others in town’

May 30, 2012, 2:03 PM | Article By: Baboucarr Senghore

Former Guinea Bissau interior minister, armed forces and electoral commission chiefs, who all fled from Bissau after last month’s coup, arrived in The Gambia recently and are currently in the country, government officials confirmed yesterday.

Fernando Gomes, Jose Zamora Induta and Desejado Lima Da Costa respectively are currently in The Gambia, assistant superintendent Ba Ensa Jawara, spokesperson for the Gambia Immigration Department, told The Point.

Jawara, who spoke on behalf of the Immigration Department, declined to comment on when the Bissau-Guinean government officials arrived in The Gambia, and their whereabouts, citing security reasons.

On Monday, Jawara had told this paper that their arrival in The Gambia “is not to the knowledge of the Immigration Department,” as reported earlier.

“We have contacted all our entry points, and they have no knowledge about this,” Jawara said then.

Meanwhile, media reports on Sunday had quoted a local government official in Senegal saying 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.

According to the Senegalese local government official, Induta and his 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.

Reports also quoted a Guinea-Bissau army officer saying 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.

The Bissau army officer 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 was close to Gomes said he and Induta had reportedly already arrived in The Gambia, reports stated.

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.

Guinea Bissau army vowed last 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.