Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo issued a decree Monday dissolving the opposition-led parliament, following “the seriousness of the events of November 30 and December 1” which the president described as an “attempted coup.”
The decree, which came into force immediately, states that the events “constituted an attempt to subvert the constitutional order, resulting through this criminal action in the loss of human life” and ordered the dissolution of “the National People’s Assembly of the XI Legislature,” affirming that a date for legislative elections will be set “in due time.”
Embalo announced on Monday that, “Everything is going well in Bissau. Democratic achievements are respected and maintained. Military guards were positioned at the headquarters of the National Television and Radio of Guinea-Bissau to secure the change of general management in progress.”
The decision was, however, heavily criticised as it was deemed by the president of the parliament, Domingos Simoes, as “a constitutional coup d’état.” Furthermore, journalist Ayoba Faye claimed the president “violated Article 94 of the constitution by dissolving the parliament controlled by his principle opponent.” Article 94 of the Guinea-Bissau constitution states that, “the National Popular Assembly may not be dissolved in the 12 months after an election, in the final six months of a presidential mandate, or during martial law or state of emergency.”
The decision to dissolve the parliament came after a violent confrontation erupted last week between members of the National Guard and special forces in Bissau after two officials, Economy and Finance Minister Suleimane Seidi and Treasury Secretary António Monteiro, were released from custody by the head of the National Guard, Victor Tchongo, after being held in preventive detention. The two officials were detained again soon after the violence broke out.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the violent events in a statement on X (formerly Twitter) when it stated, “the ECOWAS strongly condemns the violence and all attempts aiming to disrupt the constitutional order and the rule of law in Guinea-Bissau,” and it has further called for “the arrest and the pursuit of the authors of the events, in accordance with the law.”
Moreover, the African Union released a statement in which the chairperson, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahama, condemned the violence in Bissau and expressed concerns over the dissolution of the parliament, further calling for all parties to “prioritise dialogue in the furtherance of peace and to respect the Constitution to ensure the preservation of stability and unity of the country.”
This is the second time Embalo has dissolved the parliament since his election in 2020, as he has previously dissolved the parliament in a similar decision in 2022 following claims of corruption.