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Guinea-Bissau names new prime minister

November 19, 2016

Guinea-Bissau's president has named a new prime minister following the dissolution of the sitting government. The troubled African country's administration has been paralyzed by a crisis over leadership succession.

UN Generalversammlung in New York - José Mário Vaz, Präsident von Guinea-Bissau
Guinea-Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz (above) named Umaro Sissoco Embalo as prime ministerImage: Reuters/E. Munoz


Guinea-Bissau named its fifth prime minister in a year on Friday as the coup-ridden country of 1.7 million people struggled to end months of political gridlock. President Jose Mario Vaz, pictured, named the relatively low-key Umaro Sissoco Embalo as prime minister, replacing Baciro Dja. 

"Mr. Umaro El Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo is named prime minister," read a presidential decree, before the new premier was sworn in during a brief ceremony. Embalo is a 44-year-old former military general that has served in previous administrations.

From cashew nut to steak: combating poverty in Guinea-Bissau

"I have held various positions in previous governments, including advisor to the president, to the prime minister and to the speaker of parliament, and I was promoted to the rank of state minister and brigadier general in 2012," Embalo told the Agence France-Presse news agency shortly before his appointment. "I know that the task that awaits me will not be easy."

A never-ending power struggle

The small Portuguese-speaking country has been in the throes of a power struggle since August 2015, when Vaz sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Since then, two factions of the ruling PAIGC have failed to resolve their differences over Pereira's successor with some lawmakers refusing to work with him.

Political rivals agreed in September to a plan to ease a political crisis that has prevented parliament from passing budgets and blocked international aid. The six-point plan, drafted with the help of regional mediators, included a preliminary agreement to form a consensus government.

Military coups, narcotics smuggling

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its post-colonial independence from Portugal in 1974. It has been a major hub for cocaine smuggling and suffered nine coups since 1980.

jar/jlw (AFP, Reuters)