September 22, 2017
#AfricanLeaders : Botswana
September 29, 2017

#StateOfTheNation Guinea Bissau

Guinea-Bissau, capital Bissau, has been faced countless military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974. In recent years, parliament and the government have been at a stalemate. Since August 2015 the crisis has escalated after the Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz, commonly known as Jomav, fired then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, the leader of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). This then led to two factions of the ruling PAIGC failing to resolve their differences over Pereira’s successor with some lawmakers refusing to work with the president. Since then, no legislative or budget proposals have been adopted. Apart from the monthly salaries that the members of parliament are entitled to, nothing seems to be working in parliament.

The West African country of 1.8 million people has seen political backlash from the PAIGC, regional neighbours and their former colonial power Portugal, all of whom feared further instability. In an attempt to ease the political crisis, the political rivals agreed in September to a plan that would hopefully pacify a parliament that has been averted from passing budgets and blocking international aid. A six-point plan was drafted with assistance from regional mediators, included a preliminary agreement to for a consensus government.

The ruling party, PAIGC, proposed Carlos Correia, prime minister three times formerly to replace Baciro Djá. Former Nigerian president, Olesegun Obasanjo was tasked with persuading Jomav to accept the nomination of Correia. Upon acceptance of the nomination, Jomav swiftly began having disagreements with Correia, leading him to reappointing Baciro Djá, a mere eight months after Correia’s appointment. Djá’s appointment was supported by the opposition, Party for Social Renewal (PRS); again, the PAIGC rejected Djá’s appointment.

After being on the sidelines for long enough, the international community intervened. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia was made mediator in Guinea. The mediation included the main opposition parties, the PRS and The Movement of Change (UM); where they agreed upon three candidates for the prime minister position: João Fadia, Augusto Olivais and Umaro Sissoco.

With peace in mind, an agreement was signed in October 2016 to remove Baciro Dja and appoint Umaro Sissoco, as the nation’s fifth prime minister in 18 months. However, both opposition parties believed the appoint of Sissoco was unconstitutional and refused to participate in the new government; declaring that Augusto Olivais was the accepted candidate in the mediation. Jomav was firm in his decision, defending his reasoning by saying Sissoco was the most neutral candidate presented. President Sirleaf backed the decision and Sissoco remains prime minister of Guinea-Bissau.

With the military having remained quiet for so long about the political situation, their delay is not taken for granted more so in a nation that since independence hasn’t seen an elected leader complete their full term. One thing remains certain, if a lasting solution isn’t decided upon, it is Bissau Guineans who will continue to suffer the most. The country remains the epitome of political stagnation with the country’s administration having broken down. Apart from that, schools, hospitals, police and the judicial system are close to collapse. Officials and employees have not been paid wages and due to political commotion, international donors do not release promised funds.