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03 Mar 2020 | 07:55 PM UTC

Guinea-Bissau: Soldiers reportedly occupy Supreme Court March 3 /update 6

Supreme Court officials claim soldiers have occupied the court in Bissau on March 3, as the political situation remains tense; heightened security presence expected

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Event

The political situation in Guinea-Bissau remains tense as of Tuesday, March 3. According to a spokesperson from the Supreme Court, soldiers have occupied the court in the capital Bissau since Monday, March 2, and are not allowing workers to enter the building. Judges and officials are reportedly unable to complete a full audit on the results of the disputed December 2019 presidential elections that was ordered by the Supreme Court.

Since Friday, February 28, soldiers have taken control of several state institutions, including the national assembly and radio and television stations. According to a representative of Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who was inaugurated as president on February 27, the soldiers were deployed to allow a new cabinet to be formed and installed. However, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for the military to remain neutral in the current political struggle.

A heightened security presence and localized disruptions are anticipated across the country until the political situation normalizes. Political protests are possible, particularly in Bissau.

Context

Interim President Cipriano Cassama resigned from office on March 1, citing danger to his family. Cassama was appointed president by parliament on February 28, where the majority of lawmakers have rejected Embalo’s declared victory in the elections.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) reported that Embalo secured 53.55 percent of the vote in the run-off on December 29, while his rival, Domingos Simoes Pereira, won 46.45 percent. Following the NEC announcement, Pereira condemned the Electoral Commission's lack of transparency while claiming the run-off was marked by electoral fraud.

Guinea-Bissau has struggled with government stability, facing multiple attempted coups, since gaining independence from Portugal in 1973.

Advice

Individuals in Guinea-Bissau are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.