Guinea-Bissau’s opposition rejected on Tuesday the appointment of the National Assembly speaker as interim head of the chronically unstable state after the death of President Malam Bacai Sanha in Paris.
“The Democratic Collective expresses its complete rejection of the ascension of National Assembly leader Raimundo Pereira to the post of interim president,” read a statement from the 14-party umbrella group.
The coalition said it could not endorse Pereira to a position where he would have power to “dismiss the current Attorney General to avoid prosecuting suspects in the suspected assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and army chief General Batista Tagme Na Waie” in 2009.
Vieira was killed by soldiers in revenge for the death of Tagma Na Waie hours earlier in a bomb attack at army headquarters.
While investigations have never yielded clear suspects publicly, the opposition has often accused Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior of involvement in the 2009 events. Gomes is seen as very close to Pereira.
Both are from the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde which holds 67 of 100 parliamentary seats.
The Party for Social Renewal which holds 28 seats is among those refusing Pereira’s role as interim leader.
Sanha died in the Val de Grace military hospital in Paris on Monday where he was admitted in late November with an unknown illness and placed in an artificial coma.
He became the fourth president in a row not to see out a five-year term — the previous three were either ousted or killed.
This will be the second time Pereira has had to step in as interim leader, after also taking the reins following Vieira’s death.
Sanha was elected that same year, vowing to reform a powerful army which has long been tangled with the state and implicated in cocaine trafficking in a state whose history is studded with coups and political vengeance.
Sanha was severely ill and out of the country on December 26 when a group of renegade soldiers attacked army headquarters in Bissau in the latest mutiny, which the regime said was an attempted coup.
A military source said the army had been placed on full alert after Sanha’s death. However life went on as usual in Bissau with shops open and no security forces present.
According to the country’s Constitution the head of the National Assembly has 60 days to organise fresh elections. — AFP