LISBON - Development aid to Guinea Bissau could be at risk if the country slips back into chaos, former colonial power Portugal said on Tuesday, expressing concern that a rift between the president and prime minister could trigger a "grave political crisis."
Donors pledged more than 1 billion euros in March to help the country which returned to civilian rule in June last year following a 2012 coup. Since 1980, Guinea Bissau has undergone nine coups or attempted coups.
Portuguese television RTP quoted Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira as saying that President Jose Mario Vaz was trying to dismiss the government. The two rivals' powers overlap in the semi-presidential system.
"The Portuguese government fervently wishes that it will be possible to overcome the risk of a political crisis," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Without "the normal functioning of democracy," the ministry said, "it would be extremely difficult for the international community to keep providing the cooperation and support that Guinea Bissau needs."
The 2012 coup was followed by two years of public looting and a surge in drug trafficking, a concern to Western governments and African neighbors worried at having an unstable narco-state in a fragile corner of West Africa.
Premier Simoes Pereira has said PAIGC, the ruling party to which both he and the president belong, planned a convention this year to address tensions, with a committee studying the constitution to clarify responsibilities between the leaders.