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Guinea-B ex-army chief wants drug probe

05 September 2013, 19:04

Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's former army chief is calling for an independent commission to investigate accusations that he is involved in drug trafficking, the military said on Thursday, adding that a probe would clear his name.

The United States charged Antonio Indjai in April with drug trafficking and seeking to sell arms to Colombian insurgents, although he has not been extradited and remains in Bissau.

He is accused of four counts of conspiring to sell surface-to-air missiles to Colombia's FARC rebels to shoot down US patrol helicopters and of seeking to import huge amounts of cocaine into the United States.

"It is General Indjai himself who suggested it as he is tired of hearing his name everywhere, in every mouth and all media, associated with a network of drug traffickers," Brigadier General Daba Na Walna told a news conference in Bissau.

"He is calling for the creation of an independent commission to come and investigate. Members of this commission will see for themselves that there are other people involved and not General Indjai," he told reporters.

The charges against Indjai came less than two weeks after similar trafficking accusations were brought against Guinea-Bissau's former navy chief and four others arrested for an alleged transatlantic plot.

The charges result from undercover sting operations that began in August 2012 and culminated in dramatic arrests of some of the accused by US agents on a boat in international waters off West Africa earlier in April.

Indjai led a coup in April 2012 that ousted the regime of former premier Carlos Gomes Junior.

He agreed in May last year to hand power to a civilian transitional regime headed by President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, which is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 November.

Guinea-Bissau, a country of just 1.6 million people, has suffered chronic instability since independence from Portugal in 1974 due to conflict between the army and state.

The volatility has fanned poverty, attracting South American drug cartels which have turned it into a hub of cocaine trafficking for west Africa.



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