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02 Mar 2020 | 08:46 AM UTC

Guinea-Bissau: Interim president resigns amid election tensions March 1 /update 5

Interim president steps down 48 hours after his appointment March 1; heightened security presence expected

legal
security
GNB

Event

Guinea Bissau's peculiar political tensions, ongoing since Friday, February 28, came to an end on Sunday, March 1, after Interim President Cipriano Cassama stepped down for 'personal security reasons.'

Cassama was elected by the National Assembly as interim president following the dispute regarding the results of the December 29 presidential elections, which saw the election of opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo who was inaugurated on Thursday, February 27.

A heightened security presence and localized disruptions are anticipated across the country until Guinea Bissau's political situation settlement. Political protests are possible, particularly in the capital Bissau.

Context

The African Party for Guinea and Cape Vert Independence (PAIGC) - the ruling party since 1973 - contested the results of the elections and designated an interim president on February 28, a day after opposition winner Umaro Sissoco Embalo took office, leading to a situation where two presidents and two prime ministers declared victory.

The military took control of the national radio and television networks on the evening of February 28, without announcing which political party they would support.

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. This second-round verification was requested by the Supreme Court following Pereira's appeals, and as advised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) following the tensions of the election results in early January.

Guinea-Bissau has experienced a period of political uncertainty since August 2015, when President José Mario Vaz dismissed then-Prime Minister Pereira, leader of the president's own party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). President Vaz has suffered increasing unpopularity and only received 12 percent of the vote during the first round of the presidential election on November 24.

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.