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Guinea Bissau President Names Prime Minister


Guinea Bissau's newly elected president has named a prime minister days after sacking his government in a move that has raised fears of a looming political crisis in a country with a long history of unrest. President Joao Bernardo Vieira's decision to appoint a close ally to the job has sparked angry criticism from the former ruling party.

Shortly after being tapped for the prime minister's job Wednesday, Aristide Gomes promised he would work hard to form a new cabinet soon that would represent all people in Guinea Bissau.

Mr. Gomes, a close ally of President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira, said he would look among his base of support for potential ministers, but promised a broader search from all parts of the political sector.

President Vieira's decision to invoke a special article of the constitution in order to fire the government last Friday, along

with then Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, raised political tensions in the capital, Bissau.

Soldiers have been posted at government ministries ever since. Government workers have been denied access to their offices.

Members of Mr. Gomes Junior's party, known as the PAIGC, have criticized the president's decision to appoint the man who served as his campaign manager in recent elections. They called the appointment a dangerous step.

The PAIGC held a majority in parliament until very recently.

The new Prime Minister Gomes is a former top-ranking official from that party. His membership was suspended over his support for Mr. Vieira, who previously ruled for nearly two decades before being ousted six years ago.

Mr. Gomes says he has not ruled out naming PAIGC members in his new government.

He said he understands there are assets among the PAIGC membership. He said they will be considered.

The former Portuguese colony has had a turbulent history since gaining independence in 1974. It had been hoped that presidential elections earlier this year would put an end to a recurring cycle of coups and civil war.

However, despite the endorsement of the elections as transparent and democratic, the result was marred by allegations of fraud.

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