Guinea-Bissau is a poor country and a narco-state. It’s also a country that has a long history of military coups and even lived through a near one year-long civil war at the end of the 90s. The current president was elected in the spring of 2014 after a transition that followed a military coup that was unanimously condemned by the international community. However, a political crisis started in 2015 when he ousted his prime minister from his party, causing the PAIGC to expel him from membership.
Last spring, legislative elections occurred. PAIGC won, but José Mario Vaz, the president, refused to name a PM from this party. The crisis worsened: His term was over, but he was refusing to hold an election. That’s where ECOWAS, the regional body of western Africa, intervened. A deal was reached: Guinea-Bissau would be de facto ruled by the PM Aristides Gomes until the November 2019 presidential election, and Jose Mario Vaz would until then retain the title of president.
Recently, the crisis worsened.
José Mario Vaz, in an illegal move, named a new PM, Faustino Imbali on Monday. Since the move was clearly forbidden by the deal reached with the ECOWAS, Aristides Gomes, the Prime Minister that Vaz was trying to oust, refused to step down and his still claiming to govern the country.
ECOWAS, African Union, European Union, and even the United Nations all agree that the only legitimate PM in Guinea-Bissau is Aristides Gomes. Sanctions will soon hit the country if Imbali refuses to concede power to Gomes according to ECOWAS.
The good news is the army explicitly announced it won’t intervene, and that 200 soldiers from Sénégal mandated by ECOWAS were sent in Guinea-Bissau due to the constitutional crisis.
The crisis will, of course, remain a topic of concern in Africa, and we will cover right here, on Porter Medium.