ECOWAS recognises Embalo as Guinea-Bissau president


West African regional bloc ECOWAS recognises Umaro Sissoco Embalo as winner of Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election as it attempts to draw a line under a four-month dispute over the results.

The national electoral commission repeatedly declared former army general and Prime Minister Embalo winner of the DecEmber run-off vote. Outgoing President Jose Mario Vaz handed power to him in an inaugural ceremony in February.

ECOWAS said days later Embalo’s inauguration was “outside legal and constitutional frameworks” as runner-up Domingos Simoes Pereira challenged the results in the Supreme Court.

The court has still not ruled on Pereira’s latest challenge, saying it cannot act in the absence of the chief judge, who fle for Portugal after the election saying he feared for his safety.

In a statement posted to its website, ECOWAS noted the stand-off had not yet been resolved and provided no explanation for why it now saw Emablo’s presidency as legitimate.

“In the face of persistent blockage and after an in-depth analysis of the country’s political situation, ECOWAS heads of state and government decided to recognise Embalo’s victory,” the statement said.

The post-election controversy dashed hopes of the vote ending years of institutional chaos.

Former President Vaz, eliminated in the first round of voting last November, cycled through seven prime ministers in five years amid a dispute with Pereira’s party, which controls the most seats in parliament.

Pereira accused Embalo of illegally seizing power with the backing of the country’s military, involved in nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.