Guinea Bissau president moves towards constitutional reform

Guinea Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo established a committee on revising the constitution Monday, after years of chronic political instability in the West African state.  

The move follows a years-long political deadlock under the previous administration, when the former president repeatedly clashed with the parliament and sacked prime ministers. 

The former Portuguese colony’s constitution provides for power-sharing between the presidency and the legislature, which has often stoked institutional tensions.

Embalo announced the creation of the new committee on Monday without detailing its members or any proposals being considered.

The 47-year-old former prime minister is no stranger to constitutional controversy himself.

He won a run-off presidential vote in December, according the country’s electoral authority, but the losing candidate called the election fraudulent and took the case to the Supreme Court.

But Embalo declared himself president without waiting for the court.

Guinea Bissau has been chronically unstable since independence in 1974, wracked by frequent military coups. 

The nation of some 1.8 million people has also long struggled with poverty and corruption and has become a transit route for South American cocaine heading to Europe.