BISSAU – Guinea Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz on Monday named a new government with the backing of the second-biggest party, weeks after his dismissal of the previous cabinet sparked fears of a return to turmoil in the coup-plagued West African nation.
Vaz sacked then-Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira last month amid a growing row between the men, both members of the ruling PAIGC, that was fed by overlapping duties in Guinea Bissau’s semi-presidential system.
The president then named Baciro Dja, formerly minister of presidential affairs, as the new premier.
However, the move was condemned by many PAIGC members, forcing Vaz to seek the support of the PRS, the second-largest party in parliament.
Dja’s new cabinet is composed of 15 ministers and 15 secretaries of state, according to the presidential decree naming them. The PRS secured five ministries and five secretary of state posts, along with governorships and ambassadorships as part of the agreement.
The United Nations last month urged Guinea Bissau’s political groups to resume dialogue to end the power struggle, which it worried risked undermining the country’s fragile stability.
Demonstrations against Vaz have been peaceful and the country’s military has vowed to stay out of the political tug-of-war and obey the constitution.
The former Portuguese colony has a long history of political instability, having suffered nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.
Drug traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos and used the country as a transit point for smuggling cocaine between South America and Europe.
Elections last year restored democratic rule and released international aid frozen in the wake of Guinea Bissau’s most recent army coup in 2012.(Reuters)