Guinea-Bissau army deploys at state institutions as crisis deepens

Guinea-Bissau’s military deployed at key state installations in the capital on Saturday, as a political crisis continues to bite in the small West African country.

Two men, Umaro Sissoco Embalo and Cipriano Cassama claim the presidency.

After the inauguration of Umaro Sissoco Embalo, the winner of the contested December vote on Thursday, Guinea’s parliament where the party of Embalo’s challenger Domingos Simoes Pereira holds a majority swore in Cipriano Cassama as interim president on Friday.

In what promises to be a worse political crisis than the one under ex-president Jose Mario Vaz, Embalo dismissed Aristides Gomes as Prime Minister on Friday, and replaced him with Nuno Gomes Nabiam.

Gomes denounced his dismissal as unlawful and a ‘military coup’.

Armed soldiers kept guard at the Prime Minister’s residence in Bissau. Anti-riot police also took positions near by. There was also a remarkable military presence at the state broadcaster’s offices in the capital.

Military personnel remained deployed the offices of Gomes on Saturday, according to an AFP correspondent.

Embalo swore himself in at a hastily organised ceremony on Thursday despite an unheard case challenging his victory at the Supreme Court. Domingos Simoes Pereira filed the petition arguing that the vote had been rigged.

Guniea-Bissau, a small country in West Africa is no stranger to political crises. Former president Mario Vaz’s tenure was dominated by back and forth fights with Pereira and Gomes.

Many hoped that a new election would end the political bickering. If anything, it seems on track to worsen it according to observers.

The European Union expressed concern at the developments saying the situation “risks aggravating the long-standing crisis facing the population”, according to media report.

Embalo is a former army general allegedly backed by Senegal. The national electoral commission said he won last December’s vote with 53.55% against Pereira’s 46.45%.

Pereira lost the run off vote despite winning the first round overwhelmingly.

Pereira’s party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) has dominated Bissau politics since the country got independence from Portugal in 1974.

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