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Dissolution of parliament by Embaló in Guinea-Bissau: divide and impera


The President of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, decided on Monday to dissolve the National Assembly, which he considers "a space for political guerrilla warfare and conspiracies". Since then, opponents have been at loggerheads, blaming each other.

After the decision of Umaro Sissoco Embaló, this Monday, to dissolve parliament, it seems obvious that the Head of State of Guinea-Bissau does not hesitate to carry out his threats. Embaló also declared that early legislative elections would be held this year, in order to resolve “the political crisis which has exhausted the capital of trust between sovereign institutions”.

For Bissau-Guinean public opinion, the dissolution of parliament was both necessary to resolve the impasse between the legislature and the executive. But on the other hand, seems opportunistic on the part of Umaro Sissoco Embaló, who would seek to "divide to conquer better".

Indeed, within the parliament, the former single party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) is in the majority. The historical party of Amílcar Cabral, led today by former Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira – loser of the last presidential election against Embaló – is imploding.

Not only has Umaro Sissoco Embaló ordered the banning of the PAIGC congress on three occasions, but within the party, a coalition favorable to the president is forming. A most banal political scuffle, therefore, but which had become complicated since the coup attempt against Umaro Sissoco Embaló last February.

How Embaló Disintegrates PAIGC

Indeed, Domingos Simões Pereira has been under investigation since the coup attempt for his possible participation. The PAIGC was therefore forbidden to hold its congress on February 17, then on March 10 and 17. The headquarters of the party, now in opposition, located opposite the presidential palace.

Domingos Simões Pereira, placed under judicial supervision and then banned from traveling, accuses Umaro Sissoco Embaló of instrumentalizing justice. But within the party of the former Prime Minister, elected officials and officials of the PAIGC, led by the activist Bolom Conté, also opposed the holding of the party congress. Conté is renowned for his proximity to the head of state, he is also one of Pereira's first rivals, and the political enemy of former president José Mario Vaz.

In the midst of this internal war within the PAIGC, which dates from before the coup attempt, the deputies of the party obstruct the work of the parliament where they hold the majority. To tell the truth, the election of Umaro Sissoco Embaló at the beginning of 2020 was a surprise.

Moreover, in Guinea-Bissau, apart from José Mario Vaz, no president has managed to finish his term. The country has experienced many military coups. Umaro Sissoco Embaló is counting heavily on the support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to stabilize the country.

“There is only one leader: the President of the Republic. The others execute, that's how it is”

Indeed, since the attempted putsch against Embaló on February 1st, the Guinean-Bissau president has requested the dispatch of a stabilization force from the White Helmets of ECOWAS to Guinea-Bissau. A request that will no doubt be accepted, Umaro Sissoco Embaló being very close to the presidents of Senegal and Nigeria, Macky Sall and Muhammadu Buhari. Even if Embaló is considered the black sheep of ECOWAS – he believes that the body is “a union of heads of state” – the forces of ECOWAS Ecomog are mostly made up of Nigerian and Senegalese soldiers.

At the national level, too, Umaro Sissoco Embaló is planning a reform of the Constitution. A reform which, according to the Bissau-Guinean president, will give broad powers to parliament. If he decides today, therefore, to dissolve parliament, it is undoubtedly with the aim that his coalition, Madem G-15, is more represented.

Moreover, last September, Umaro Sissoco Embaló removed the coordinator of his party Braima Camará from power. Embaló had declared to this effect: “He (Camará) plays politics. I say that chaos and disorder no longer exist in Guinea-Bissau. There is only one leader: the President of the Republic. The others execute, that's how it is”.

Read: Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the iconoclastic president

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