Guinea-Bissau: Most political parties in parliament see no reason to dissolve it

Most of the parties with seats in Guinea-Bissau’s parliament believe that there is no reason to dissolve the assembly, their representatives said after audiences with the country’s president, Umaro Sissoco Embaló.

The head of state had on Wednesday told journalists in Bissau that he had called on the political parties and his Council of State to look at the possibility of his dissolving parliament, after he had criticised the actions of some members who walked out before a vote on the government’s budget for 2021.

Sissoco Embaló held a series of audiences on Thursday, starting with the speaker of parliament and the first vice-president of the largest party, the PAIGC, Cipriano Cassamá.

“We believe that the dissolution of parliament is a prerogative of the President of the Republic and we believe that there is no crisis in parliament at this time,” said Cassamá, referring to the constitutional article on the subject, which specifies that the president may dissolve parliament when there is a serious crisis.

Asked about the fact that the PAIGC – which won last year’s legislative elections, does not recognise the current government, Cassamá said that the audience with the president did not serve to analyse the government’s situation.

“The President of the Republic asked our opinion on whether or not to dissolve parliament”, he stressed.

The PAIGC was on Wednesday absent from the assembly and so did not take part in the vote on the 2021 state budget, which was approved with 54 votes in favour and none against.

Another opposition grouping, the Movement for Democratic Alternation (Madem-G15) also argued that there was no reason to dissolve parliament, given that all state institutions are functioning.

“There is nothing at the moment, from our point of view, that justifies the dissolution of the National People’s Assembly”, said the coordinator of Madem-G15, Braima Camará. “We call, as Madem, for the continuation of this democratic debate; difference of views does not mean enmity, insults, violence.”

The secretary-general of the Social Renewal Party (PRS), Florentino Mendes Pereira, told journalists that the dissolution of parliament was not the subject of his conversation with the head of state.

“In the last few days there has been some unrest in the National Peopl’s Assembly and the president has been concerned about some reactions and thinks that there should be some moderation in order to continue working with a view to stabilisation” of the situation, he said. 

He said that the president was willing to mediate, if necessary, in relations between the various parliamentary groups and that he had called on parliamentarians to focus on national interests and not on “personal quarrels”.

Asked whether PRS had spoken to the head of state about a possible dissolution of parliament, Mendes Pereira said that the matter did not come up, adding that: the “PRS cannot convey the president’s position and should not be revealing the content of our conversation with the head of state.”

Asked whether the PRS considers that there is a political crisis in the country, he said that he did not think so.

The two other parties heard by the president, the New Democracy Party and the United People’s Assembly – Democratic Party of Guinea Bissau (APU-PDGB), also argued that there was no reason to dissolve parliament.

Iaia Djaló, president of the New Democracy Party, said that while parliament was operating in a “somewhat critical” environment, the president had to “consider dissolution because he has time to monitor”.

Jorge Mandinga, leader of the APU-PDGB, stressed that parliamentarians are making efforts to moderate the language and that there is no reason to dissolve the parliament.