Netherlands denies Dutchman arrested in Guinea-Bissau

The Netherlands on Friday denied that a Dutch businessman had been arrested in Guinea Bissau, despite such an announcement by the west African country's army chief.

"Our ambassador in Senegal and the man in question had contact," foreign ministry spokesman Toon van Wijk told AFP.

"He told the ambassador that the authorities had bothered him but that he had not been arrested," he said.

Guinea Bissau army chief of staff General Antonio Indjai told a news conference on Thursday that Jan Van Maanen, who is also Britain's honorary consul, had been arrested on Wednesday for spreading rumours of a coup.

"There are people who are spreading false information about a coup being prepared. One of them is Jan Van Maanen... I had him arrested," Indjai said.

The general said there was no truth to the coup speculation and urged residents to remain calm, dismissing any talk of a coup as "just rumours".

Guinea-Bissau has suffered chronic instability since independence from Portugal in 1974 due to conflict between the army and state.

A coup last April caused further turmoil in the west African nation, one of the world's poorest.

No president has ever completed a full term in office in the country.