2003 São Tomé and Príncipe coup d'état

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
São Tomé and Príncipe

The 2003 São Tomé and Príncipe coup d'état was an attempted coup by rebels on July 16, 2003. It was led by Major Fernando Pereira of the military. The coup leaders claimed that they had acted to overthrow the government to help stop poverty in the region.


The island nation experienced political instability previously. Just months before the 2003 coup attempt, President Fradique de Menezes dissolved Parliament over disagreements related to issues of presidential power.[1] The situation was resolved after negotiations between both sides which produced an agreement to carry out reforms by 2006.[2]

Coup details

President Menezes was out of the country, on a private trip to Nigeria when the coup began on July 16.[3] The coup was led by members of the Christian Democratic Front, (a political party without seats in Parliament). It had included many volunteers in the South African 32 Buffalo Battalion.[2] The coup started with soldiers taking control of strategic sites and arresting the Prime Minister and the Oil Minister, the Prime Minister having suffered a heart Attack from the gunfight in his home.[4] Although the coup had affected Sao Tome, it had not affected the island of Principe. In a Press Conference, Pereira claimed the poor living conditions of those in the military drove him to rebel.[2]


Negotiations between the government and the coup leaders began on the second day of the coup. The rebels accepted to relinquish control provided that they received amnesty from the government and that an election be held and a new government take office. South African diplomats were involved in the negotiations with the 32 Buffalo Battalion involved in the coup.[5]


  1. "President dissolves parliament". IRIN. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 "The Bloodless Coup of July 16 in São Tomé e Príncipe" (PDF). Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  3. Murphy, Jarett. "Coup In Sao Tome". CBS. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  4. "Sao Tome coup condemned". BBC. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  5. "Coup leaders hand power back to civilian president". IRIN. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
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