New Guinea Bissau PM named, incumbent refuses to leave


Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz named a new prime minister but his sacked predecessor refused to step down, intensifying a power struggle between Vaz and the ruling party weeks ahead of a presidential election.

Vaz, who is running again in the November 24 poll, dissolved government on Monday saying the political situation was undermining normal functioning of state institutions in the West African country.

It suffered repeated bouts of instability since independence from Portugal in 1974, including nine coups or attempted coups and a surge in cocaine trafficking from South America linked to senior military officials.

The country has been largely peaceful since Vaz came to power in a 2014 election following a coup two years earlier.

He repeatedly clashed over the balance of power in the semi-presidential system with a string of prime ministers put forward by the African Party of the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has a majority in parliament.

In a decree on Tuesday, Vaz named as Prime Minister Faustino Fudut Imbali, who served in the same post from 2000-2003 and represents the small Manifest Party of the People.

Gomes, put forward by PAIGC, told Reuters he refused to go: “I am in my office, working.”

Gomes said Vaz’s orders were illegitimate since the president’s term technically expired on June 23. West African regional bloc ECOWAS declared Vaz could stay in office to the November election.

Vaz won the 2014 presidential election as a PAIGC candidate but fell out with the party after sacking his prime minister in 2015. He is running for re-election as an independent candidate.

In a rare political protest, demonstrations from a party opposed to Gomes’s government took to the streets of Bissau at the weekend, demanding the election be postponed so voter lists could be checked for irregularities.

A protester died on Saturday and several were wounded, according to government, a hospital source and march organisers.