Is ECOWAS Banning Party Coalitions in Guinea-Bissau?

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People are no longer surprised by the so-called JOMAV “irregularities”! What may be surprising is why Nuno Nabiam’s APU-PDGB has been involved in these latest events which are leading to an attempt to replace Mr Aristides Gomes’s government.

What reasons could lead all candidates to the presidential elections of 24 November (except those still in the forum), and the parties that support them, to join the JOMAV (outgoing President) in an attempt to make the electoral process more fair and transparent.

It all started when the results of last March’s legislative elections were published, and the PAIGC, contrary to its expectations, failed to get the majority needed to govern. The PAIGC needed 5 APU-PDGB Members to get 52 Members in order to obtain the required majority.

PAIGC, desperately went to APU-PDGB to get the right to rule Guinea for the next 4 years. From this arose the parliamentary incidence/coalition agreement. It was the APU-PDGB that decided Guinea’s history by legitimizing PAIGC’s right to govern the tenth legislature.

Nuno Nabiam, the leader of the APU-PDGB, understood that this parliamentary advocacy coalition with PAIGC would be more credible in supporting his candidacy in the November 2019 presidential election, as it turns out.

Nuno Nabiam made a political miscalculation: The PAIGC party could not make any concessions that could allow for power sharing or some kind of balance as a way of guaranteeing the stability of the country. PAIGC believes that they can guarantee the stability of the country alone by offering its development program called “Terra Ranka”.

Candidate Nuno Nabiam, in signing this parliamentary lobbying agreement with the PAIGC, did not realize that he was enabling the power of governance to his biggest competitor in the upcoming presidential elections.

With the government in its hands, PAIGC has achieved two victories in ECOWAS:

i)the legitimacy of that government to organize presidential elections, and ii) the emptying or neutralization of the powers of the President of the Republic.

This ECOWAS decision gave PAIGC and its candidate a special opportunity. By gaining the leadership of a government that has international legitimacy to (i) organize elections in any way it wishes; ii)governing as they please, because nothing and no one can dismiss them, has created an environment that can be termed DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP. A political regime where the referee (the government) and the PAIGC candidate get confused, as a “special adviser to the prime minister”.

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Let’s look at indicators that demonstrate the existence of this regime of democratic dictatorship:

(a) As the control and enforcement mechanisms are inoperable, this government has created strong suspicions of negotiations with drug traffickers, with the possibility, in return, of receiving huge amounts of money to finance their electoral campaign. In a country where no one asks or investigates the origins of money, it is a big advantage over other candidates;

(b) By having the right of access to public funds, this government has left clear signs that all “available” money should be subtracted from public funds and used to fund the campaign. The most significant indicator was the unwillingness to place its militants in key places, even if it meant the dismemberment of some Ministries and services under the control of other parties. This is the case of the Social Security Institute that was withdrawn from the Ministry of Civil Service (under the supervision of APU) to be delivered to the candidate’s brother; This is the case of the NRA, the telecommunications regulatory agency, which “earns” a lot of money, which was therefore withdrawn from the Secretary of State for Transport and Communications (APU) to be under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister, just to mention these most glaring cases.

(c) The third area of bullish intervention of this government concerns the organization of presidential elections;

i. Creates a secretariat of state that duplicates the functions of the CNE, against the will of all coalition parties and even the APU;
ii. It launches the “corrective” operation of the electoral roll, against the will of all political parties, including its partner in government (APU). And it never turned back on the decision: it was the C.N.E that decided it would not include these “corrections” on the eve of the opening of the election campaign!
iii. Going against the law, it prohibits the organization of the protest march, organized by the opposition parties, where they intervene disproportionately. The APU leader accused the government of murdering one of the marchers, and the government replied that, if killed, it would have happened far from the place of confrontation between the marchers and law enforcement. And it pretends to launch an internal inquiry that will never be published because of the difficulty in handling incompatibilities inherent in the process.

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(d) The last area of bullish intervention of this government is at the level of its coalition colleagues, which forms the so-called “forum”. The political stance is very clear: buy/entice all individuals representing the parties supporting the government, at whatever price!

Given this well-designed and well-implemented strategy, it is only natural that other candidates will feel that these presidential elections will be neither fair nor transparent.

They will not be fair, because the means available to the Government candidate are incomparably superior to those of others. And they will not be transparent because it is the PAIGC government that controls the whole process.

Are elections worthwhile under these conditions? Of course not. The most sensible option of candidates would be to abstain from participating, because the results are already predetermined. The rest will be mere adjustments depending on the circumstances of the moment.

For ECOWAS, all these details just exposed are not important. For ECOWAS, what “others” want is to prevent the holding of the elections. Therefore, for ECOWAS, the mobilization of the entire international community is needed to support this thesis that protesters have no reason to protest. All they want is to disturb or prevent the holding of the elections.

Dear readers, what is at stake in Guinea-Bissau is not the JOMAV or DSP. What is at stake is the democratic system, in its semi-presidential option. And the questions that remain are as follows:

1) Does the current government belong to a party or coalition with the APU-PDGB?

2) Is ECOWAS telling the people of Guinea-Bissau that the APU-PDGB party is forbidden to leave the coalition with PAIGC and form a new majority? when do government interests go against the policy orientations adopted in all APU-PDGB bodies (Congress, National Council and Political Commission)?

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