G.Bissau protesters keep up pressure on president to name PM

Activists of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) hold a picture of Guinea-Bissau's party leader Domingos Simoes Pereira during a rally in March 2019 (AFP Photo/SEYLLOU)

Bissau (AFP) - Supporters of Guinea Bissau's ruling PAIGC party rallied Saturday to pressure President Jose Mario Vaz to name their party leader Domingos Simoes Pereira prime minister after an election win in March.

Led by Pereira, over a thousand party supporters rallied, marching from a suburb of the capital Bissau to the port area two kilometres away.

They carried placards and shouted slogans against the president, who has not reinstated his estranged ally.

"Guinea-Bissau is in a very risky situation," Pereira said, addressing the marchers. "It is time that people understand that our next objective is to march on the presidential palace and occupy it. Nothing can stop us."

Pereira also called on the regional West African bloc ECOWAS to intervene.

Saturday's march was the third such protest in less than two weeks.

It had been hoped that the March 10 vote would draw a line under a crisis that erupted in August 2015 when Vaz -- also a PAIGC member -- sacked Pereira, his then prime minister.

But despite coming top in the election, winning 47 of parliament's 102 seats and 46 percent of the popular vote, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) has not yet been given the chance to form a coalition government.

There was tight security with a heavy police presence in the capital on Saturday. Roads around the presidential palace were cordoned off.

The new parliament has been sitting since April 18 but President Vaz, who is himself nearing the end of his mandate, suggested recently that he wasn't ready to nominate Pereira as prime minister, calling on citizens "to discuss, debate their problems".

Wedged between Senegal and Guinea on Africa's west coast, Guinea-Bissau is notorious for volatility. It has seen 16 coup attempts since independence from Portugal in 1973, four of which have been successful.