- The closest colleagues of Guinea-Bissau's assassinated General Veríssimo Seabra, many of whom themselves escaped assassination by taking refuge in a number of different diplomatic missions in Bissau during the military uprising in the country two weeks ago, may be given asylum in Cape Verde, according to press reports.
Friday's edition of Portuguese newspaper 'Diário de Notícias' informed that the Bissau-Guinean generals, many of whom resided in Western embassies in Bissau until Thursday, may be leaving for Cape Verde. Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde have close historic ties and were once a single Portuguese colony.
The military officials in question were on Thursday transferred to Catholic Church installations and are currently under the protection of the Bishop of Bissau, José Camnate. Their fate is now discussed.
The group of officials includes Emílio Costa, second in command in the hierarchy of late General Seabra, who was assassinated in the uprising, and the heads of three branches of the Armed Forces: Watna Na Lai (army), Melcíades Fernandes (air force) and Quirino Spencer (marines). Among them is also Colonel Pedro Barreto, one of Mr Seabra's closest collaborators. General Seabra himself headed last year's military coup in Guinea-Bissau.
The transfer of the group to the custody of the Catholic Church put an end to several days of negotiations mediated by the UN and by the Bishop of Bissau, who is of Balanta origin like the majority of the military personnel who participated in the uprising. This fact may have made dialogue easier, according to Bissau-Guinean sources.
The officials' transfer to church installations is part of a process that, according to the Portuguese newspaper, is expected to lead to their release - possibly to exile in Cape Verde - as rumours over the past several days in Bissau have indicated.
The question of security surrounding the former chiefs of the armed forces is still up in the air. It has yet to be decided if the task will be given to military personnel or members of the Public Order Police.
Several of the officials targeted by the military uprising that resulted in the death of General Seabra are of Cape Verdean descent, albeit remote in most cases. This is the case of Melcíades Fernandes, cousin of Cape Verde's opposition MpD party's National Assembly deputy Mário Fernandes from Tarrafal on Santiago Island.
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