Guinea-Bissau President Fires Ministers
POLITICS DIGEST – Guinea Bissau’s president Jose Mario Vaz has announced that he is sacking the government with immediate effect, throwing the West African country into further chaos and casting doubt over next month’s election.
It is the latest move in a months-long confrontation between the presidency and the government and comes days after Prime Minister Aristide Gomes denounced a coup attempt and police violently repressed an opposition protest.
President Jose Mario Vaz’s decree, read out over national radio on Monday, said the “serious political crisis” in the country “prevents the normal operation of some institutions” and led to his decision to sack the government.
On Saturday, a protester was killed and several were injured when police blocked opposition supporters from holding a demonstration calling for a delay to the November 24 presidential election.
The opposition wants the vote postponed in order to allow an overhaul of the electoral register to limit potential voter fraud.
Vaz, 62, became president in 2014 after elections billed as a new start for a country that had known only coups and turmoil since the end of Portuguese rule in 1974, but a series of prime ministers have come and gone in that time.
The country is still struggling with the crisis unleashed by the president’s 2015 decision to sack his then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira.
Vaz’s five-year mandate ended on June 23 but he is staying on temporarily under a mediation plan forged by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Supreme Court said earlier this month it had approved 12 candidates to contest the poll, including Vaz, who intends to stand again as an independent candidate.
Several candidates saw the court reject their bid to stand, but the international community has stated the electoral calendar should be respected.