Embalo is new Guinea-Bissau president


The outgoing Guinea-Bissau president handed power to the declared winner of December’s election, former army general Umaro Cissoko Embalo, as the Supreme Court considered a new request by the runner-up to annul the vote.

The electoral commission repeatedly confirmed Embalo as winner of the December 29 run-off despite complaints by the Supreme Court that the commission did not respect orders to conduct a full audit of the vote.

Runner-up Domingos Simoes Pereira, whose PAIGC party holds the most seats in parliament, filed a fresh complaint on Wednesday, asking the court to order a re-vote because of what he says were widespread irregularities.

It is not clear when the court will rule.

The disputed result suggests whatever the final outcome, the election is unlikely to end the institutional chaos of the past five years, during which President Jose Mario Vaz cycled through seven prime ministers while in a protracted dispute with the PAIGC.

Vaz, eliminated in the first round in November, attended Thursday’s swearing-in in Bissau.

So did high-ranking officials from the military, which launched nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Many senior dignitaries, including the speaker of parliament, Supreme Court judges and foreign diplomats, stayed away. Many foreign governments congratulated Embalo when he was first declared the winner they have mostly been silent about subsequent legal wrangling.

In his inaugural speech, Embalo did not mention the electoral dispute vowing to tackle widespread poverty in a country dependent on a main export, cashew nuts, for which prices are volatile.

“The record of 46 years of independence is characterised by total collapse of the dreams of our ancestors,” he said, wearing a sash with the red, yellow and green of the national flag.

The current generation of leaders “will work to have a better health and education system and pull the country from the slump in which it is mired”, Embalo added.

Pereira continued to decry on Twitter what he says is an electoral coup and hailed support received from party allies in government and parliament.

“The national assembly, prime minister, government, political parties and legalists are united to prevent the anti-democratic threat of the competing candidate’s group,” he said.