afrol News, 9 December - Guinea-Bissau President Kumba Yala yesterday appointed a new Prime Minister after the disputed Faustino Imbali was sacked on Friday. The new appointment however does not seem promising for a return to political stability in the plagued nation.
Former Interior Minister Alamara N'tchia Nhasse, 51, on Saturday was named Bissauan Prime Minister. Nhasse was one of three candidates proposed to President Yala by the governing Party for Social Renewal (PRS), which leads a minority government with presidential backing in Bissau. Imbali, not member of any party, had not enjoyed the confidence of even the PRS.
Ex-Prime Minister Faustino Imbali on Friday was relieved of his post, with immediate effect, by a presidential decree containing strong criticisms of the executive led by the independent Bissauan politician. He had however been appointed by President Yala himself only nine months ago as a uniting personality, amid strong opposition protests.
President Yala stated in the decree sacking Imbali that, "The dominant political context in the country nowadays was one of a crisis in government, which had to be overcome to prevent the negation of the social, economic, political and cultural objectives outlined by the government after the last elections," the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported from Bissau.
President Yala earlier this month had been annoyed by Imbali showing "a lack of transparency in his handling of affairs" and claimed he had "abused the confidence placed in him." Imbali further had not managed to win support for his policies in the Bissau Parliament, where his work frequently was obstructed in protest of his mere appointment.
New Prime Minister Alamara Ntchia Nhasse at least will draw on the support of the governing PRS party. The leader of the PRS parliamentary group, Sola Nkilim, welcomed the appointment on Saturday with "rejoicing". Nkilim told AFP, "There's no doubt Faustino Imbali was a disappointment to us all."
Although President Yala claims he had listened "to the main opposition party leaders" when sacking Imbali, the opposition has reacted rather chilli to the appointment of Nhasse. No opposition party felt the need to return to a coalition with President Yala's PRS party, letting the PRS keep on with its minority governing.
Nhasse's appointment was however met with far less drama than Imbali's appointment, indicating the opposition would consider its policy of obstruction. Helder Vaz, leader of the Guinea-Bissau Resistance - Bafata Movement, said the opposition would be co-operative "for the sake of the stability" of the country.
The presidential appointment, non-regarding the opposition's parliamentary majority, however caused frustration among opposition leaders, seeing it as just another presidential decision lacking legitimacy. President Yala, increasingly politically isolated, over the last months had sacked a great number of persons within the government, the Supreme Court and civil servants.
The political stability sought by international supporters and potential donors seems out of reach in troubled Guinea-Bissau. Civilian government, in office since January 2000, has been challenged by military coup attempts and has been unable to reach out to the parliamentary opposition. Nhasse will be President Yala's third attempt of finding a Prime Minister heading a stable government.
Nhasse, an engineer educated in the former Soviet Union and Cuba, however alienated the parliamentary opposition on 3 December. Speaking thus as Interior Minister, he alleged he had uncovered a planned military coup, leading to spate of arrests in the armed forces, including the deputy army chief and the former head of the Navy.
The opposition still demands proof that such a plot was ever planned. Nhasse maintains he has proof linking the plot to former President Nino Vieira, who was overthrown in 1998, but he has not been willing to present it.
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