Saturday 17 March 2018

Guinea-Bissau opposition rejects president's crisis talks plan

Guinea-Bissau opposition rejects president's crisis talks plan
(AFP 12/14/17)

Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz has proposed fresh talks on the country's grinding political crisis days before the issue was to be raised at a regional summit, but opposition parties have rejected the plan, both sides revealed on Wednesday.

The tiny west African state has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015, when the president sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

Talks mediated by Guinean President Alpha Conde in October 2016 had envisaged naming a new prime minister and assembling a unity government including PAIGC lawmakers.

A new prime minister, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, was sworn in last December but the majority of the PAIGC rejected him, accusing Vaz of breaching an agreement calling for a consensual choice of prime minister.

In a presidential note dated December 11, Vaz invited the signatories to the Conakry accord to meet and "together analyse" a way forward.

"In the process of implementing the Conakry accord, it is my responsibility as head of state to invite two members of each signatory party to analyse the application of the agreement," Vaz said in the note.

The would include PAIGC, as well as representatives from other political parties, civil society and the international community.

But PAIGC and its allies, including the Union for Change (UM) and the Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD) declined the invitation, asking the president to provide details about what was on the proposed meeting's agenda, a PAIGC statement said.

The ongoing crisis is to be addressed at a summit for leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja on Saturday.

With the backing of Conde and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, the Conakry signatories are expected to meet, a source close to ECOWAS said.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974.

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