(By Agencies, Citizen Digital) Guinea-Bissau’s president on Saturday accused the new prime minister of overstepping his constitutional bounds by claiming the right to name the cabinet, suggesting a months-old political crisis in the coup-prone West African state is not over.
President Jose Maria Vaz said in a statement it was the head of state’s prerogative to decide the structure of the cabinet and review the names proposed for ministerial appointments by his prime minister.
“The statement of the prime minister, Carlos Correia, concerning the submission of the list for a new cabinet is unconstitutional,” Vaz said, after Correia submitted a list.
The comments marked the first flaring of tensions between Vaz and veteran politician Correia, who was sworn into office in the former Portuguese colony on Sept. 17 in a bid to end a political standoff that had sown fears of Guinea-Bissau slipping back towards chaos after a 2012 coup.
The crisis erupted after Vaz, who won power in elections last year, dismissed Prime Minister Domingoes Simoes Pereira on Aug. 13 after long-running tensions over their respective powers.
The Supreme Court then ruled that Vaz’s unilateral appointment of Baciro Dja as prime minister, against the wishes of the ruling PAIGC party, was unconstitutional.
Over the last decade, the turmoil in Guinea Bissau has allowed drug traffickers to use the tiny, cashew-growing nation as a transit point for South American cocaine headed to Europe. Law enforcement officials have expressed concern that further chaos could allow traffickers to thrive once again.
In an effort to kick-start Guinea-Bissau’s economy, Vaz last week met Chinese investors who signed a memorandum of understanding for investments in agriculture, health and manufacturing.
Guinea-Bissau is notoriously unstable even by the standards of a region known for military takeovers and civil wars. No elected president has served a complete term since independence from Portugal in 1974, and there have been nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.