Guinea-Bissau: Coup d'etat means risk for Angola

A likely result of the coup is a reduction in Angolan economic interests in Guinea-Bissau.

The latest coup in the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau was likely led by Army Chief of Staff Antonio Indjai, motivated by discontent over Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior’s attempt to use the Angolan military in the country to bolster his own position and weaken the tiny nation's Army leadership. According to London-based ExclusiveAnalysis Ltd, if no counter-coup emerges, which is unlikely if Army Chief of Staff Indjai is indeed behind the current attempt, the Army leadership in Guinea-Bissau is likely rapidly to transfer power to a candidate of their choice. This would probably be either Kumba Yala or Serifo Balde Namhajo. The latter is a PAIGC dissident opposed to Gomes Junior's camp.

Business Risks

Following the coup, the new government would likely seek to reduce Angola's economic footprint in the country. This will pose a high risk of further delays or revisions to Angola's $500 million project for the development of a bauxite mine in the Boe region and a deep-water port in Buba. Other Angolan interests in the country include Banco Privado Atlantico's shareholding in Guinea-Bissau bank BAO and Sonangol's shareholding in Portuguese firm Galp which is involved in the downstream petroleum sector.

Risks to exploration contracts in the nascent offshore oil sector, as well as gold and phosphate mining contracts will be at lower risk of revision or cancellation as these are not specifically tied to Gomes Junior.

Angolan Intervention?

Although Angolan troops (MISSANG) have not yet withdrawn physically from the country, according to ExclusiveAnalysis, it is unlikely that Angolan troops will intervene to reverse the coup. This is because the announcement of the mission's withdrawal appears to signal that Angola has decided it prefers to try and salvage its remaining economic interests rather than protecting Gomes Junior at all costs. Angola has probably realized that it cannot sideline the Army leadership in Guinea-Bissau, and will therefore not seek to antagonize it further by intervening to reverse the coup, according to the London-based firm.

Gomes was arrested on April 13 by the dissident forces, yet another national leader to leave behind an unfinished term. No president has completed a term in Guinea-Bissau for the last 40 years. Gomes was the front-runner in the planned April 29 election in Guinea-Bissau, which is plagued by cocaine traffickers based in South America.

 

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