Former President of Sao Tome and Principe’s Assembly arrested for alleged coup attempt

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The Prime Minister of Santo Tomé and Príncipe, Patrice Trovoada. – LI XUEREN / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The former president of the National Assembly of Sao Tome and Principe, Delfim Neves, is one of the six people arrested for the attempted coup d’état on Friday, after four armed men burst into the army barracks in the capital of the archipelago, Sao Tome, firing shots.

«I want to say to the people of Sao Tome, to those residing in the country and to the foreign community, that the situation is under control, it is calm», announced the Prime Minister, Patrice Trovoada, a few hours after the attempted coup.

«We have been the target of a coup attempt (…) It is not a robbery, it is an attack with weapons of war on the Armed Forces of the country», informed Trovoada, who after describing what happened as of «extreme gravity» has trusted that «Justice will do its job», reports the newspaper ‘Téla Nón’.

«Sao Tome and Principe does not deserve these problems. The people are sovereign, the people chose this team to lead the destinies of the country», said the head of government, who regretted that it is not the first time that they suffer an attempt of these characteristics. «The last time was on August 3, 2018,» he recalled.

During his address to the nation, Trovoada has reported that several people have been arrested in connection with this coup attempt, including former Assembly Speaker Delfim Neves and Arlécio Costa, a former officer of a South African mercenary battalion known as ‘The Buffaloes’.

Trovoada detailed that the four assailants who broke into the Army barracks are related to «the sadly famous» squadron of ‘The Buffaloes’, while another group of people whose number could not be determined waited outside waiting for the detainees to bring them more weapons.

«What we need is to arrest those elements who were outside the barracks and who had an exchange of fire with the Armed Forces,» Trovoada has stressed, who has emphasized that during the assault on the barracks there were no fatalities. «There were no deaths… Only one wounded,» he said.

This is the second time that this battalion seeks to carry out a coup d’état in the country, after the one in 2003. On that occasion, again commanded by Arlécio Costa, they did succeed, although a year later it was reversed without bloodshed thanks to international mediation. Costa and the other detainee, the former president of the Assembly Neves, have been partners in the latter’s 2021 presidential campaign.