Guinea Bissau president-elect to be sworn in despite pending case

Wednesday February 26 2020

Guinea Bissau president-elect Umaro Sissoco Embalo.

Guinea Bissau president-elect Umaro Sissoco Embalo. PHOTO | FILE | AFP  

ARNALDO VIEIRA
By ARNALDO VIEIRA
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Bissau-Guinean National Electoral Commission (CNE) is confirming the victory of President-elect Mr Umaro Sissoco Embaló, giving him licence to proceed to take oath despite a court challenge from his opponent Domingos Simões Pereira.

The move on Tuesday by the CNE could raise new controversy as Mr Pereira had challenged the decision to award victory to Embaló, delaying the swearing in.

In January, CNE said the December 29 re-run polls electoral results saw Mr Umaro Sissoco Embaló of the Movement for Democratic Alternative (Madem-G 15) as the winner with 53.55 percent.

Mr Domingos Simões Pereira, the African Party for Guinea and Cape Vert Independence (PAIGC) candidate had 46.45 percent of the votes.

The two former prime ministers went head to head on December 29 to determine who will become Guinea Bissau’s next president after the November 24 election failed to produce an outright winner.

President-elect Umaro Sissoco Embaló maintained Sunday he will be sworn-in as the country’s head of state Thursday even without the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) validation over his victory.

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The SCJ has not yet validated the polls results.

“The Supreme will have time to pronounce itself. I leave the Supreme to do its job and I will do my political one,” he said. 

“The claims fundamentals have no right matters”, CNE Tuesday’s deliberation said adding CNE deliberates rejected the petitioner claims.  

The decision was made Tuesday after an eight-hour plenary deliberated by the SCJ.

On Monday, the SCJ has ordered CNE to make a fresh national vote counting after a petition filed by Mr Domingos Simões Pereira candidature claimed fraud and other irregularities during the process.

Last month, PAIGC also filed a petition at the SCJ asking it to nullify the December 29, 2019 presidential re-run.

The SCJ in Guinea Bissau has an electoral tribunal competency and has ordered the CNE to recount nationally the electoral results. 

Meanwhile, Mr Domingos Simões Pereira candidature said Tuesday after CNE deliberation that it would file a new a petition to nullify the polls.

“CNE was confronted with a series of irregularities, we hoped that CNE would have the humility of acknowledging these faults and go back to make corrections to adjust the case,” lawyer Gabriel Umabano said.  

“We have no other alternative but turn to the SCJ and ask the court to judge CNE behaviour and these irregularities”. 

Mr Vençã Mendes, Umaro Sissoco Embaló’s candidature representative said there is no other element that can alter the electoral results substance.

“A process, the most supervised during Guinea Bissau electoral process journey is this one”, he added.  

On Friday, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) warned the SCJ and CNE to cooperate to safeguard the electoral process in a prerequisite for peace and stability in the country.

The regional bloc has also threatened to impose sanctions to Guinea Bissau actors that would not contribute for the political normality.

Ecowas, which has congratulated Mr Umaro Sissoco Embaló over his victory, added it will keep supporting authorities and Guinea Bissau citizens in efforts to consolidate democracy and promote peace and stability essentials for the socioeconomic development.

The African Union and United States have also congratulated Mr Umaro Sissoco Embaló over his victory after the re-run presidential elections.

Former president José Mário Vaz became the first president since 1994 to complete his term in a country hitherto destabilised by coups.

More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, according to World Bank making it one of the poorest and most unstable countries in Africa.

Guinea Bissau is a West African country with a population of less than two million people.

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