Guinea-Bissau’s Cipriano Cassamá quits amid ‘death threats’


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Dan Sanha

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Cipriano Cassamá was speaker of parliament until he briefly became president

One of the two men declared president of Guinea-Bissau has resigned from the post after just one full day in office, saying his life was in danger.

Cipriano Cassamá was chosen by lawmakers as president following disputed elections in December.

This was despite the fact that former army general Umaro Cissoko Embaló had already been sworn in as president at a hotel in the capital, Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau has had nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.

A former Portuguese colony in West Africa, it has also become a key trafficking point for drugs from South America on their way to Europe.

This has led to it being dubbed a “narco-state”.

Why did Guinea-Bissau have two presidents?

The poll was intended to draw a line under the past, but it has triggered a new political crisis in a nation where the military wields huge political influence.

The national electoral commission declared that Mr Embaló had beaten his main rival, Domingos Simoes Pereira, by 54% to 46% in the 29 December run-off election.

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AFP

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Supporters of Mr Embaló celebrated after he was declared the official winner

Outgoing President José Mário Vaz handed power to Mr Embaló at a ceremony at a luxury hotel on Thursday.

But Mr Pereira’s PAIGC party rejected Mr Embaló’s inauguration, saying the election was marred by fraud.

It then used its parliamentary majority to swear in Mr Cassamá, the parliamentary speaker, as interim president, until the Supreme Court ruled on its bid to annul Mr Embaló’s victory.

What did Mr Cassamá say?

Mr Cassamá said he had no choice but to give up the post because he had received death threats.

“I have no security… My life is in danger, the life of my family is in danger, the life of this people [nation] is in danger. I cannot accept that, that is why I took this decision,” he told reporters.

Mr Cassamá did not say who had made death threats against him.

Despite his resignation, Guinea-Bissau still has two rival prime ministers.

The West African regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), has called for an end to the turmoil, and has warned that a military force is on standby to “re-establish order” in the event of a coup.

Mr Embaló has said he wants to resolve tensions and modernise Guinea-Bissau – one of the world’s poorest nations, which is home to some 1.6 million people.



BBC