Guinea Bissau: missionary reflects on assassination of President Vieira

 The president of Guinea Bissau, Joao Bernardo Vieira and Chief of Staff Batista Tagme Na Waie were both assassinated this week.

Agenzia Fides asked a missionary with many years experience in the country to suggest some reasons as to why the the killings took place. The missionary asked that his name not be disclosed, for security reasons.

He said: "In the country, there are two hypotheses on the death of President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira and Chief of Staff Batista Tagme Na Waie. The first refers to the conclusion of a ten-year quarrel between two men. Vieira and Na Waie were companions as soldier in the war against Portuguese rule. After the independence, Na Waie held various important posts in the army. But the true turn of events came with the coups of 1980, in which Vieira took power. Between 1980 and 1984, Na Waie was in charge of the military police.

In 1988, General Na Waie was removed from office and arrested on accusations of having participated in a supposed coups against Vieira. In jail, he was immediately subject to cruel tortures, with the use of so much electric current that he was left sterile, a real tragedy in the African culture. He spent seven years in jail before being freed. Ten years later, he joined the coups led by General Ansumae Mane. At that time, I was able to meet him. In fact, I ministered to the prisoners in the military prison. I must say that General Na Waie has given proof of his humanity in that he allowed for an improvement in the hygenic conditions in prisons.

Later, Tagme and Vieira's paths would cross once again. After a long exile in Portugal (1999-2005), Vieira returned to the country, being elected the new President. Na Waie was appointed Chief of Staff, after his predecessor General Verissimo Correira Seabra was killed in a military revolt carried out by soldiers who had not received their pay and awards of recognition after fighting for an African peace force in Liberia. General Na Waie made an oath of fidelity to the President, but the two entered into tense conflict right away. Many in Guinea Bissau view the confrontational attitude between the two as the cause of mysterious events of the past months, such as the attempt to kill the President in November 2008, or Na Waie's claim that he was once victim of a homicide attempt in January of this year.

Thus, according to this interpretation, the death of the Chief of Staff would be attributed to the President and the soldiers who were faithful to Na Waie would be the ones who took revenge by killing the President.

The second hypothesis has to do with a struggle for control of cocaine trafficking that comes from Latin America and stops over in Guinea Bissau before making its way to Europe. Both military and police are involved in the drug trafficking. This is no secret. According to this theory, General Na Waie did not respect the agreements and was killed in a bombing ordered by the drug-traffickers. His men then must have gone, in turn, and killed the President, thinking that he had ordered the death of their commander. However, the two hypotheses do not exclude one another."

Source: Fides

Share this story