General Ansumane Mane attempted a coup against President Joao
Bernardo Vieira, who has ruled Guinea-Bissau since 1980. Mane
accused the President of corruption and leading the nation into
poverty. Vieira fired Mane from command of the armed forces on
charges of selling weapons to the Casamance rebels of southern
Senegal. The army rebellion also may have originated in part due
to the government's inability to properly pay its soldiers.
interest in saving the Vieira government stemmed partly from a
desire to prevent a government friendly to the Casamance rebels
from ruling Bissau. Also, after the intervention began, Senegalese
forces began a campaign against Casamance forces in based in
northern Guinea-Bissau. Senegal apparently took advantage of the
upheaval in Bissau in order to pursue its own interests.
A military coup
was attempted on June 7, 1998. The rebels failed to oust the
government, which then received significant aid from neighboring
Senegal and Guinea-Conakry. Nearly 1,200 Senegalese and 400
Conakry troops flew into Bissau to help suppress the rebellion.
Despite the efforts of government loyalists and the foreign
troops, the rebellion against President Vieira not only continued,
but grew as the countryside erupted in revolt against the
government as guerilla veterans of Bissau's War of Independence
took up arms against the the President, citing the nation's
poverty and government corruption, rather than a fondness for
Fighting in the capital
caused many of the 300,000 inhabitants to flee the city, while
artillery duels created great damage to the downtown
The two sides agreed to
a cease-fire July 26, while negotiations continued with Portuguese
assistance. Violence ruptured the cease-fire several times, but
usually in isolated incidents as on October 19, when both sides
engaged in artillery duels in Bissau.
Vieira and Mane signed a
peace agreement November 2, 1998 in Abuja, Nigeria. After intense
negotiations involving the leaders of Gambia and Nigeria, the two
sides agreed to an arrangement which called for new elections in
March and the pullout of Senegalese and Guinea-Conakry troops who
were replaced by a regional peacekeeping force. The terms of the
peace deal established an interim government of national unity
featuring supporters of President Joao Vieira and of the rebel
faction. The new 10-person government, were to have led the
country until elections scheduled for later in 1999.
The peace deal showed
serious signs of breaking down in February, 1999 as both sides
engaged in renewed fighting, but further work on the part of
Togolese diplomats soon halted the combat.
After the Senegalese and
Guinea-Conakry troops left, forces from the West African
organization called ECOMOG (Economic Community of West African
States), moved in to keep the peace.
On Thursday, May 6,
1999, Mane's forces struck out against the government troops,
capturing Bissau and forcing Vieira to flee to a foreign embassy
for safety. Apparently, Mane was concerned that ECOMOG had failed
to disarm Vieira's Presidential Guard, and feared the
repercussions of this supposed breach of the peace pact. Vieira's
Presidential Guard was formed from members of his own ethnic
group, the Pepel.
-- Devastation in the
--The overthrow of
--Possible political and
military tension between the new Bissau government and neighboring
Senegal and Guinea-Conakry.
--Elections were held
and the new civilian government of President Kumba Yalla (the
first democratically elected leader in Bissau history) took power
in February 2000.