Court challenges PM nomimation in Guinea-Bissau

The Supreme Court in Guinea-Bissau has upheld the nomination of Prime Minister Baciro Dja, bolstering President Jose Mario Vaz in a power struggle with a rival former prime minister.

Vaz appointed Dja in May after sacking then Prime Minister Carlos Correia, a move that further divided the ruling PAIGC party and which Correia denounced as a “constitutional coup d’etat”.

“The legal proceedings brought by the PAIGC (against the nomination) are null and void and therefore inadmissible,” the court ruled, according to broadcast on local radio.

“The presidential decree that appointed Baciro Dja as head the government of Guinea-Bissau is indeed constitutional.”

Vaz sacked Correia and his government on May 12, saying they had proved incapable of managing a months-long political crisis, caused partly by the overlapping duties of the president and prime minister in a semi-presidential system.

A bank bailout that was condemned by donors as ill-advised and serving only the ruling elite has prompted the IMF to remove budget support, triggering economic meltdown and a gaping budget deficit.

Adding to its woes, Guinea-Bissau this month confirmed its first three cases of the Zika virus in a group of islands off its coast, a development that risks providing a gateway for the disease to reach the African continent.

The United Nations fears a protracted political crisis will trigger unrest. The former Portuguese colony is notoriously unstable and has seen nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.

Vaz, a former finance minister, was elected in 2014 after the army was forced to hand back power to civilian politicians following a military coup.

Since independence in 1974, no democratically elected leader has served a full term in Guinea-Bissau. The political turbulence has also helped it become a major transit point for cocaine trafficked from South America to Europe.

 

Reuters/Zainab Sa’id