[QODLink]
Archive
Soldiers seize power in Sao Tome
Soldiers have seized power in the tiny West African nation of Sao Tome and Principe in an early morning coup on Wednesday.
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2003 16:00 GMT
Resentment has been brewing in Sao Tome for sometime
Soldiers have seized power in the tiny West African nation of Sao Tome and Principe in an early morning coup on Wednesday.

Residents said the soldiers seized control while the country’s president, Fradique de Menezes was away on an official visit to the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

The country’s Prime Minister Maria das Neves and several other key officials were immediately taken into custody as the heavily armed soldiers patrolled the capital, having taken control of the television station, airport and the central bank.

Coup leaders cited tough socio-economic conditions and political instability as the reasons behind the coup, heralded at dawn by a short spell of gunfire and grenade explosions around the capital.

Sao Tome has been hit by political turmoil lately, fuelled by wrangling over what may be billions of barrels of oil lying off its coast. No oil has yet been found though.

Neighboring Nigeria, which will help Sao Tome develop the potential reserves as a joint venture, condemned the coup and cautioned its leaders against harming Nigerian citizens of property.

State of Emergency

The apparent coup leader, Major Fernando Pereira, declared a state of emergency on national radio and told members of the government to gather at the police headquarters.

Defence Minister Fernando Danqua and Parliament speaker, Dionisio Dias were also taken into custody by the soldiers.

On a visit to Portugal, Sao Tome’s Foreign Minister Mateus Meira Rita demanded power be returned to the elected government.

He linked the coup leaders to the Democratic Christian Front, a party which launched protests earlier in July calling for the government’s overthrow.

In a country of 170,000,  Sao Tome’s armed forces number about 900 troops.

Some young army officers had taken over the impoverished country for a week in 1995, protesting against backbreaking poverty.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
join our mailing list