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Coalition Government Falls in Guinea-Bissau


Guinea-Bissau's coalition government has fallen after a presidential decree dissolved the parliament and named a caretaker prime minister. Brent Latham reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar, elections are still scheduled for November.

President Joao Bernardo Vieira has issued a decree dissolving the parliament of Guinea-Bissau, months before scheduled elections in November. The president appointed a new, caretaker prime minister for the interim period.

The events mean the formal end of Guinea-Bissau's coalition government. The government, formed in March of last year by the country's three main political parties, was meant to bring stability to the politics of the historically politically unstable West African country.

The fall of the government was brought about by the withdrawal from the ruling coalition last month of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, or PAIGC, says Lassana Cassama, a reporter in Guinea-Bissau.

Cassama says once the PAIGC dropped out, the government was no longer viable. The PAIGC controlled 45 seats in Guinea-Bissau's 100 member parliament.

Mr. Vieira said he had consulted the political parties and civil society before issuing the decree dissolving parliament. He named Carlos Correia, a veteran politician and PAIGC member, as the interim prime minister. Correia has served as prime minister twice before, most recently in 1998.

Cassama says Correia is unlikely to get very far in forming a new government before scheduled elections on November 16. He says, despite Guinea-Bissau's tumultuous political history, elections are expected to proceed as scheduled.

Mr. Vieira first became president of Guinea-Bissau in 1980, when he seized power as head of a coup staged by the armed forces. He was ousted following a civil war in 1999, but returned to office in 2005 when as an independent candidate he won the presidential election in a runoff.

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