Guinea Bissau President holds talks with Opposition

Jose Mario has dissolved his government
Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario

Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz opened talks with the country’s main political parties on Friday to form a new government, after he fired the previous cabinet in a power struggle with the prime minister.

Vaz dismissed Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira on Wednesday in a row caused partly by overlapping duties in Guinea Bissau’s semi-presidential system.

The ruling PAIGC party, to which both men belong, said on Thursday it would name Pereira to lead the new government – a move Vaz is expected to block.

The United Nations, which has a mandate to promote peace and strengthen democracy in Guinea Bissau, says the country is now experiencing a “political crisis”.

A former Portuguese colony, Guinea Bissau, has a long history of instability, suffering nine coups or attempted coups since 1980. In recent years it has become a major transit point for cocaine smuggled from South America to Europe.

Pereira, popular with Western donors, helped secure more than Sh100 billion in financing at a March conference to help stimulate the economy after the 2014 election though political uncertainty could endanger the much-needed assistance.

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