See also:
» 08.07.2010 - Guinea-Bissau could head towards new chaos
» 08.06.2010 - Guinea-Bissau PM denies being sacked
» 04.03.2010 - Security reforms crucial for Guinea-Bissau, UN report
» 26.01.2010 - UN anti-crime agency help set up police academy in Guinea-Bissau
» 15.07.2009 - World Bank increases support to Guinea Bissau
» 15.05.2009 - Guinea Bissau gets international support for elections
» 15.04.2009 - Two ex-Presidents in Guinea-Bissau polls
» 04.03.2009 - Bissau’s interim president affirms democratic rule

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Guinea-Bissau power struggle building up

Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior of Guinea-Bissau

© Devra Berkowitz/UN Photo/afrol News
afrol News, 24 May
- Rumours in Guinea-Bissau have it that Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior is losing his grip on power. The power struggle ignited by the failed 1 April coup is nearing a countdown.

On the surface, President Malam Bacai Sanhá rules Guinea-Bissau in coordination with Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior and his cabinet. Both have their legitimacy from popular votes. But in reality, the armed forces in the country insist on political influence and within the armed forces, drug money is fuelling another power struggle.

On 1 April, the army struggle broke out in open conflict as the chief of general staff, General Jose Zamora Induta, was overthrown in a mutiny headed by his deputy, General Antonio Indjai. The new leader, it turned out, had been supported by former navy chief of staff Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto.

General Bubo is the most prominent Bissau citizen blacklisted by the United States in April for his alleged leading role in the narcotics trade and corruption. Since the 1 April mutiny, General Bubo has been given the opportunity to reclaim a powerful position in Guinea-Bissau, now building parallel staff lines in the country's navy.

President Bacai and Prime Minister Gomes see their positions threatened by the new, self-appointed strongmen in Guinea-Bissau's armed forces. Both have struggled to win at least international support for their legitimate government.

On a 9 May official visit to the neighbouring brother nation of Cape Verde - which shares its colonial and independence war history with Guinea-Bissau - the threats to civilian rule were so clear that Cape Verde's President Pedro Pires felt it necessary to declare his support to visiting President Bacai during a joint press conference. The Cape Verdean President urged the Bissau army to pledge allegiance to their elected President, government and parliament.

Also Prime Minister Gomes, despite his ailing health, is urging for foreign support and has barely been in Bissau since the 1 April mutiny. However, a longer hospitalisation in Cuba limited the chances of the Prime Minister to regain the momentum.

Portuguese and Cape Verdean analysts hold that the Prime Minister so far only has managed to stay in power due to pressure from the international society, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) even putting a military threat behind their demand for continued constitutional rule in Guinea-Bissau.

But Prime Minister Gomes meets resistance from the current strongmen in the Bissau armed forces, reportedly urging for his resignation. Their demand is supported by the opposition in the Bissau parliament, headed by ex-President Kumba Yala. Reports from Bissau further indicate that a growing group of MPs from the Prime Minister's party PAIGC are considering Mr Gomes as a lost case and now favour "a fresh start".

Pressure therefore is mounting on President Bacai to fire his cabinet and name a new Prime Minister that could improve relations with the armed forces.

Conspiracy theories are widely spread in the West African region and should seldom be listened to. But with growing international evidence that Guinea-Bissau is turning into a drug marketplace, the rumour about drug capital being behind the plan to get rid off Prime Minister Gomes cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, the international community is trying to counter the attack on the Bissau government. The many elected governments of Guinea-Bissau trying to provide political stability have so far mostly been let down by the international community when it comes to provide aid, loans and debt restructuring, thus slowly undermining their political efforts.

Now, suddenly, the doors seem to open up for Guinea-Bissau. Only this month, major funding has been pledged. The African Development Bank (ADB) has provided US$ 8.5 million in direct budgetary aid to Guinea Bissau and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a US$ 34.8 loan. A debt cancellation process has started, which soon could conclude in three-quarters of Guinea-Bissau's debt being cancelled.

But the question is whether this financial support will have come soon enough to save the government of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior.

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