Guinea Bissau named the leader of an April 1 army mutiny as the chief of its armed forces, a day after the United States raised concerns over who controlled the West African state’s volatile military.
The tiny coastal country is seen as a hub of the narcotics trade between Latin America and Europe. Washington has named former army officials as suspected traffickers and last week urged Bissau to ensure that they held no sway in the military.
However in a presidential decree, Guinea Bissau confirmed as head of the armed forces General Antonio Injai, who deposed the former army chief in April and is allied with one of those suspects, former navy chief of staff Bubo Na Tchuto.
While Na Tchuto’s current role in Guinea Bissau is unclear, analysts say he has regained influence in the military since returning from exile last year and could accrue more power in civilian politics.
Bissau authorities have not commented on the US statement, which warned that further work on reforming the country’s army was impossible until it was purged of suspected drugs traffickers. Both the prime minister’s office and the defence ministry said a statement could be made in coming days.
A United Nations report released last week said transit countries in West Africa were being severely destabilised as the world’s $88 billion cocaine market shifted towards Europe from North America, which remains the biggest user.