Leaders Fly to Guinea-Bissau to Prevent Coup

Assassination leaves power vacuum in African 'narco-state'
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2009 6:57 AM CST

(Newser) – West African leaders are holding an emergency meeting in Guinea-Bissau today following the assassination of the country's president, reports the BBC. João Bernardo Vieira was killed a day after the chief of staff of the army, reputed to be a rival of Vieira's, died in a bomb blast. The army has denied that it is launching a coup, and five regional foreign ministers are seeking to ensure the military does not seize power.

Diplomats in Guinea-Bissau say the capital is deserted and there is no military presence on the streets. In a strange twist, British thriller writer Frederic Forsyth has been in the country to research a new book. In an interview, Forsyth said that Vieira did not die of his gunshot wounds, but was taken to his mother-in-law's house where soldiers "chopped him to bits" with machetes.