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11.03.2020 South Africa

Self-declared G.Bissau president tours Africa in quest for legitimacy

By AFP
Umaro Sissoco Embalo declared himself president of Guinea-Bissau last month and is touring West Africa to solicit regional legitimacy.  By SEYLLOU (AFP/File)
LISTEN MAR 11, 2020
Umaro Sissoco Embalo declared himself president of Guinea-Bissau last month and is touring West Africa to solicit regional legitimacy. By SEYLLOU (AFP/File)

Guinea-Bissau's self-declared leader has embarked on a tour of neighbouring West African states in an apparent bid to shore up legitimacy while his election win remains contested.

Umaro Sissoco Embalo won a run-off presidential vote in the impoverished West African state in December, according to the country's electoral authority.

But losing candidate Domingos Simoes Pereira, from the long-ruling PAIGC party, called the election fraudulent and took the case to the Supreme Court, which has not yet ruled.

Embalo deepened the political impasse last month when he declared himself president without waiting for the court.

The 47-year-old former prime minister is now touring capitals in the region in an apparent bid to cement his claim to the presidency.

On Wednesday, he landed in Niger's capital Niamey to "strengthen the ties of brotherhood and cooperation," he wrote on Twitter.

The day before, Embalo was in Senegal's capital Dakar, where president and longtime political ally Macky Sall received him with honours.

Embalo will cap his regional tour in Nigeria on Thursday and Friday.

But the self-declared president's actions have proved controversial both at home and abroad.

An interim president nominated by MPs from the PAIGC -- which has dominated Guinea-Bissau's politics since independence from Portugal in 1974 -- has resigned citing fears for his life.

The West Africa bloc ECOWAS, the historic mediator in the country's internecine politics, initially hailed Embalo's win.

However, the 15-nation bloc cancelled a mediation mission to Guinea-Bissau this week after Embalo criticised it for interfering.

Guinea-Bissau has suffered chronic instability since independence, with the army often playing a major role.

The country has suffered four coups and 16 attempted coups since independence, the last one in 2012.

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