Led by a new prime minister, a new governing coalition has formed in
Sao Tome and Principe. The formation of the new government ends a
period of flux after the previous government was dissolved last month.
For VOA, Brent Latham has more from our West and Central Africa bureau
The new prime minister, Rafael Branco, completed
prolonged negotiations to form the government, bringing on board the
conservative Democratic Force for Change party.
Added to the
coalition formed by Branco's Sao Tome Liberation Movement and the
Democratic Convergence Party, or PCD, the coalition now controls a
clear majority in the National Assembly.
With a parliamentary
majority, the new government should be able to move the country
forward, says Rafael Braganca, president of the PCD.
says because the new government represents the majority, the people
hope that it will work to reduce the great challenges that the nation
He says this includes diversifying the economy, which
is based on falling cocoa production. Much-hoped for oil in Sao Tome's
waters has yet to be found in sufficient quantities to make it
interesting for foreign companies to buy or invest in the industry.
the previous government was censured by the National Assembly last
month, it meant the end of the term of former prime minister Patrice
Trovoada, of the Independent Democratic Action Party.
Fradique de Menezes, who had hinted the censure of the previous
government may lead to early legislative elections, finally backed down
on the idea.
Braganca says there was little support in the small nation for elections, which would have been costly.
country was not ready for elections," he said. "Since there was a
constitutional solution of compromise, this was the route chosen to
move forward. For that reason people believe this government has the
ability to change the country."
Of Sao Tome's estimated 140,000
citizens, about half live in very impoverished conditions. Many in
recent years have been hoping for what some politicians called the
promised "oil bonanza".
Braganca says the country should hedge its bets on unproven oil reserves, and should develop alternative economic projects.
cannot depend on waiting for oil," he said. "We must explore other
areas, such as sustainable agriculture, tourism, and building
He said citizens have a beautiful country, and they must take advantage of it.
after being named prime minister, Rafael Branco said he was renouncing
his other nationality, of the former colonial power, Portugal.
His predecessor, Trovoada, had said his successor was what he called a "constitutional fraud" because of his dual nationality.
next scheduled election both for the legislature and the presidency
will be in 2010. President de Menezes, who has won two elected terms,
is constitutionally barred from running for another term.