Dissolving Problems

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Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo dissolved the country’s opposition-controlled parliament this week, just days after an attempted coup by members of the country’s National Guard, Bloomberg reported.

Embalo announced Monday that the West African country is experiencing “a serious political crisis,” saying there was “strong evidence of political complicity” in last week’s attempted takeover.

Fighting broke out between members of the National Guard and forces of the presidential guard in the capital Bissau last week when members of the National Guard tried to illegally free two ministers, who were being held on charges of corruption.

Embalo described the violence as a failed coup.

Even so, the legislature’s dissolution was swiftly criticized by opposition lawmakers, who called the president’s move unconstitutional. They said Guinea-Bissau’s constitution does not allow parliament to be dissolved in the first 12 months after an election, the Associated Press wrote.

The attempted coup was the second in less than two years. Following the last one in February 2022, Embalo also dissolved parliament, citing “unresolvable differences” with the legislature.

Observers said the dissolutions underscore the ongoing disputes between the president and the opposition-controlled parliament.

Guinea-Bissau’s semi-presidential system restricts the president’s powers by allowing the majority party in the legislature to appoint the government. This means that the National Guard – which is under the Ministry of Interior – is mainly controlled by parliament, while the Presidential Palace Battalion is loyal to Embalo.

Since its independence from Portugal in 1974, the country has experienced a series of coups and coup attempts, some of which have been tied to the government’s fight against drug trafficking.

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