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Guinea-Bissau: President dissolves parliament after coup bid

December 4, 2023

The leader of the West African nation has descibed a "grave political crisis," neccessitating the move, but the opposition says President Embalo is himself conducting a "constitutional coup d'etat."

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo talks to reporters
Elected to a five-year term in December 2019, Embalo has already survived a bid to overthrow him in February 2022Image: Privat

President Umaro Sissoco Embalo dissolved Guinea-Bissau's parliament on Monday after an attempted coup in the West African nation.

It comes just six months after the legislature was reconvened following a similar move in 2022.

Embalo said the date of new elections for the opposition-dominated body will be set "at the opportune moment, in line with the constitution."

What led to the attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau?

Violence had erupted between members of the National Guard and special forces of the presidential guard on Thursday night in the capital Bissau.

President Embalo, who was in Dubai attending the COP28 climate conference, arrived back in Bissau on Saturday. He said an "attempted coup d'etat" had prevented him from returning earlier.

Elected to a five-year term in December 2019, Embalo survived a bid to overthrow him in February 2022.

He blamed the latest attempted coup on an alliance between the National Guard and "certain political interests within the state apparatus."

In response to the dissolution, Embalo's long-time rival, parliamentary speaker Domingos Simoes Pereira accused the president of carrying out a "constitutional coup d'etat."

The National Guard is under the control of the interior ministry. Like most ministries in the country, it is dominated by Pereira's African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) whose coalition won the June 2023 elections.

Since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974, the country has seen a series of coups and coup attempts.

jcg/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)