Thousands of protesters call for Guinea-Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz to quit

March 25, 2017 2:55 pm

’s President (File photo)

Thousands of protesters in Guinea Bissau’s capital on Saturday demanded President Jose Mario Vaz step down to resolve a political crisis that has paralyzed the coup-prone West African country.
Protesters
marched through Bissau’s streets lined with hedges and palm trees
singing and shouting “Jomav out!”, using an abbreviation for the
president’s name. The protest followed a smaller one two weeks ago also
demanding that Vaz quit.
The former Portuguese colony has not
convened parliament for more than a year and public anger is growing at
the failure of regionally-mediated talks to resolve deep rivalries
within the political elite.
“Today people have had enough,” said
Armindo Gomes, one of the activists behind the protest. “We are heading
right up to Jose Mario Vaz’s bed to make him leave by force.”
Vaz has yet to react to the protests, but he has defended his record in government and says he has cracked down on graft.
In
August 2015 Vaz sacked Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, who was
popular with Western donors and locals, triggering a crisis that the
nomination of several prime ministers since has failed to resolve.
Diplomats
fear the current crisis could be exploited by drug traffickers in a
highly unstable country that has been a major transport hub for Latin
American cocaine. The nation’s main legal export is cashew nuts.
Guinea Bissau has witnessed nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.

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