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WACSOF Calls For Restoration Of Constitutional Order In Guinea-Bissau

WACSOF Calls For Restoration Of Constitutional Order In Guinea-Bissau

Abuja — The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) is keenly following the ensuing political developments in Guinea-Bissau beginning from the evening of On 30 November-1 December 2023, when violence broke out in Bissau, the capital of the country, between the Special Forces of the Presidential Guard Battalion and units of the National Guard who had released two ministers accused of corruption from detention. The clashes led to the arrest of the National Guard Commander Colonel Victor Tchongo. In reaction to this violence, President Umaro Sissoco Embaló of Guinea Bissau, described the event as an “attempted coup” and issued the Presidential Decree N 70 /2023, ordering the dissolution of the Assembleia Nacional Popular (ANP), the country’s parliament. He also deployed military officers at the headquarters of state media outlets, Televisão da Guiné-Bissau and Radio Difusão Nacional to replace their heads, who were seen as not being loyal to him. In addition, the President immediately assumed the dual portfolio of both the Minister of Defense and Interior as a way of strengthening security in the country. Based on information received by the WACSOF Secretariat, through various means including review of relevant press statements from different interest groups in the country, review of contents of current media reports and social media commentary regarding the situation as well as revelations from interaction with citizens and civil society representatives on the ground in Guinea Bissau, we hereby issue the following statements:

  1. We wish to expresses our deep concern over the currently ensuing political situation in Guinea-Bissau, while strongly noting that this situation has generated great unease among the civil society and the citizens of West Africa in general. WACSOF, standing in the gap as a civil society interface mechanism with ECOWAS, its Member States and civil society calls for prudence, calm and restraint in this situation.
  • We condemn without reservation the decision of the President of the Republic OF Guinea-Bissau to dissolve parliament as that constitutes an attempt to undermine Democracy and a violation of the supreme law of Guinea-Bissau, its Constitution. Under the terms of No. 1 of article 94 of the Constitution of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, the National Assembly cannot be dissolved within 12 months after the election, in the last half of the term of office of the President of the Republic or during a state of siege or emergency. This establishes clear limits for the President of the Republic regarding the dissolution of the ANP, as a way of ensuring a minimum period for institutional and legislative stability, at any given time.
  • We condemn in very strong terms, the behavior of the security agents for the invasion of public media outlets, namely: Televisão da Guiné-Bissau and Radio Difusão Nacional. Such a move undermines professionalism, neutrality, objectivity and freedom of the media, thus constituting an egregious erosion of the space for civic engagement in the country.
  • We strongly appeal to His Excellency, President Embaló, as chief guarantor for peace and public order the Guinea-Bissau, to reconsider his position on the dissolution of the ANP. This move will serve to uphold the popular will of the people, and restore the rule of law given the successes recorded by his government in the smooth conduct of parliamentary elections in June 2023.
  • WACSOF urges President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, other political leaders, and relevant authorities in Guinea Bissau to prioritize dialogue, inclusiveness and the protection of democratic institutions. It is essential that all parties engage in constructive discussions to find a constitutional solution to the ongoing crisis in Guinea Bissau.
  • We call on the ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and the international community in general, to urgently intervene in Guinea Bissau to appeal to the President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau to reverse the consolidation of state power in his own hands as President, Defence Minister and Interior Minister all at once. We strongly note that such concentration of power in the hands of one individual is usually a precursor for impunity in the governance process, as such behaviors could undermine the values and principles of the rule of law and constitutionalism.
  • While unequivocally condemning any and all unconstitutional changes of government across the entire West African region, WACSOF reiterates its determination to work for the affirmation of the Rule of Law Democracy, and constitutional order in Guinea Bissau.

Kop’ep Dabugat

General Secretary

West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF)

Tel: +234(0)8036523475

Email: kopep.dabugat@wacsofoscao.org

Website: www.wacsofoscao.org

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WACSOF Calls For Restoration Of Constitutional Order In Guinea-Bissau - WACSOFOSCAO