Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz demanded that the government dismissed the government’s release within 24 hours, an ultimatum followed by that of West Africa, which gave 48 hours to new « illegal » ministers. « Mr. Vaz to resign.
The pursuit for more than a week of this standoff between Mr Vaz and the internationally backed Prime Minister whom he fired, Aristide Gomes, is putting a mortgage on the November 24 presidential election.
This vote is supposed to maintain the course of constitutional legality found with the election of Mr. Vaz in 2014. But the latter, outgoing president of Guinea-Bissau, continues to challenge the international community by maintaining the government he has formed the October 31st.
He had just dismissed Prime Minister Aristides Gomes and his government, before appointing Faustino Imbali on 29 October to his post, as well as 17 ministers and 14 secretaries of state.
An ECOWAS mission in Bissau on Sunday reaffirmed its support for Mr. Gomes and asked Mr. Vaz to reconsider his dismissal and that of his ministers. The Bissau-Guinean head of state retorted that he « will never come back (t) » on these measures.
The National Defense Council, convened Tuesday evening by Mr. Vaz, was « ordered to form a joint force and (to) facilitate access to government institutions to members of the government of Faustino Imbali, » said a statement released Wednesday.
24 hour ultimatum
He « gives 24 hours to the government of Aristide Gomes to run », causing fear of unrest.
Gomes told the press on Wednesday that the meeting of the national defense council was « illegal because the legitimate government party did not participate ». « All that is the overthrow of the current government stems from a coup attempt, » he added.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which supports Mr. Gomes, has « once again solemnly appealed to all those who have been improperly drawn into the illegal government of Mr. Faustino Imbali, so that they resign.
The representative of the West African organization in Bissau, Blaise Diplo, « invites them to distance themselves from all initiatives aimed at compromising the upcoming presidential elections ».
« The people who (…) are in the government still have 48 hours to announce their decision of resignation to (…) the Cédeao in Guinea-Bissau », continued Mr. Diplo.
« Beyond Thursday, November 7, they will be punishable by heavy penalties » during the « extraordinary summit of the Cédeao planned in Niamey, Niger November 8, 2019, » he said.
Respect the date of the presidential
The UN Security Council had called on 1 November to respect the date of the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau, rejecting the change of government decided by its president.
In addition to Cedeao, the African Union and the European Union have also disavowed President Vaz. The latter assured that the presidential election would take place on November 24, with a possible second round on December 29.
The election campaign opened on November 2nd and will run until November 22nd.
Twelve candidates are in the running including Mr. Vaz, 62, and his former Prime Minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the majority led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).
The history of Guinea-Bissau since its independence from Portugal in 1974 is marked by violence and a series of coups or attempted coups.