Africa  

Guinea Bissau protesters call for election winner to form government

Guinea-Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz attends the opening of the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, in Abuja, Nigeria December 22, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Thousands of supporters of Guinea Bissau’s historic ruling PAIGC party protested in the capital on Wednesday calling on President Jose Mario Vaz to nominate party leader Domingos Simoes Pereira as prime minister after an election victory back in March.

It had been hoped that the March 10 vote would draw a line under a crisis that erupted in August 2015 when Vaz — also a PAIGC member — sacked Pereira, his then prime minister.

But despite coming top in the election, winning 47 of parliament’s 102 seats and 46 percent of the popular vote, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) has not yet been given the chance to form a coalition government.

Wednesday’s protest coincided with a new three-day strike of public and utilities sector workers over unpaid wages and working conditions.

The demonstrators gathered in a northern suburb of Bissau and marched to the port area, with Pereira and other PAIGC officials participating.

Protesters wore t-shirts and hoisted banners emblazoned with the slogan: “The people demand the immediate nomination of a prime minister”.

Police were posted outside the presidential palace and nearby roads were closed to traffic.

At the March election, the PAIGC’s 47 seats gave it an easy victory ahead of the two main opposition parties who garnered 48 seats between them.

The final seven seats were won by factions who have agreed to back a PAIGC-led government.

The new parliament has been sitting since April 18 but President Vaz, who is himself nearing the end of his mandate, suggested last week that he wasn’t ready to nominate Pereira as prime minister, calling on citizens “to discuss, debate their problems”.

Wedged between Senegal and Guinea on Africa’s west coast, Guinea-Bissau has a notorious reputation for volatility. It has seen 16 coup attempts since independence from Portugal in 1973, four of which have been successful.

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