Veteran politician named new Guinea-Bissau PM

Guinea-Bissau's President Jose Mario Vaz in a file picture. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

BISSAU (Reuters) - Veteran politician Carlos Correia was sworn in as Guinea-Bissau's new prime minister on Thursday amid hopes that his appointment might diffuse a weeks-long political crisis in the coup-prone West African state.

The tiny cashew exporter descended into political turmoil after President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed popular prime minister Domingoes Simoes Pereira and his government on Aug. 13.

He then replaced Pereira with Baciro Dja, over objections from the ruling PAIGC party, but Dja and his government were dismissed two days later in compliance with a Supreme Court ruling.

The octogenarian Correia, a PAIGC stalwart who now becomes Guinea-Bissau's third prime minister in the span of five weeks, has already served three stints in the job between 1991 and 2008.

"I will spare no effort to maintain institutional relations with the head of state and therefore contribute to preserving a climate of peace and security necessary for the development of the country," he said in a speech at his swearing-in ceremony.

Guinea-Bissau is notoriously unstable even by the standards of a region known for military takeovers and civil wars. No elected president has served a complete term since independence from Portugal in 1974, and there have been nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.

"I'm conscious that my country could not carry on in an endless institutional void," Vaz said at the ceremony.

Following peaceful elections last year, Guinea-Bissau secured pledges of 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) from international donors in March to foster economic and political stability.

West Africa's regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), announced on Saturday an extension of its security force in Guinea Bissau into 2016, shortly after it was left without a government for the second time in less than a month.

($1 = 0.8846 euros)

(Reporting by Alberto Dabo and Alberto Coiate; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Emma Farge, Joe Bavier and Ken Wills)