Wednesday 21 February 2018

Guinea-Bissau schools shut as political crisis grinds on

Guinea-Bissau schools shut as political crisis grinds on
(AFP 10/12/16)

Most Guinea-Bissau schools shut down on Tuesday as teachers went on strike after being left unpaid for months due to an internal ruling party crisis that has left the government without a budget.

Guinea-Bissau has been in the throes of a power struggle since August 2015, when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

The two PAIGC factions have since failed to resolve their differences and state functions have effectively ground to a halt, leaving teachers without their salaries.

"We are going to keep up these strikes until our demands are satisfied," Lauriano Pereira Da Costa, president of the teacher's union Sindeprof, told journalists Tuesday.

The strike follows a week-long boycott of classes when pupils returned to school last month.

Children were not able to attend school in the vast majority of the country, according to local radio reports on Tuesday.

A senior government official who requested anonymity told AFP that "efforts had been made" to address teachers' concerns, with three of the six months' pay previously owed now settled.

"The budget still hasn't be voted for by parliament," the official added as talks mediated by the president of neighbouring Guinea Alpha Conde were underway Tuesday.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974, and has more recently become a key cocaine trafficking hub.

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