Domingo Simoes Pereira: "Political actors must respect the rules of the game"


How can a country tackle the challenges of development without government? The question is not theoretical and for Guinea Bissau it is real since August 2015 when President José Mário Vaz sacked his Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira. In the four years since the country has been without a prime minister, many initiatives have been taken internally in Guinea Bissau but also by subregional (Cedeao) or international (UN) bodies. In vain. The parliamentary elections that took place this year have not solved the problem as President José Mário Vaz's term ends on 23 June. Former prime minister and leader of the African Independence Party of Guinea Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands (PAIGC) that led the country to independence, Domingo Simoes Pereira told Africa Point on this thorny issue .

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Africa Point: the economic, social and political situation of Guinea Bissau is all the more worrying because the country has not had a government for a long time. A case of conscience for the politician that you are?

Domingo Simoes Pereira: The situation is serious and worrying, but a solution of circumstance does not serve us. This was the solution that was used in all previous crises. Today we have an obligation to recognize that it did not work. We must dare to face our evils, which are objectively structural and to find lasting answers. In a democracy, with the holding of elections, a number of issues find solutions and no one should doubt it. The people choose their legitimate representatives. By giving a political party the majority, it enjoins it to govern, that is to say to implement the program that leaves no part of the life of the country, whether it is economic, social, political or any other field. In fact, any external element or actor that prevents the winning party from constituting its parliamentary majority and governing must take responsibility for any inconvenience that results.

The appointment of a 2nd vice-president is all the more essential as it determines that of a prime minister and as a result of a government. Why do you refuse Braima Camara's? Is it a question of people?

In any case, it is with this argument that the President of the Republic decided to question the appointment of the Prime Minister and the formation of the government. If we observe what has happened since the last elections in 2014, it is easy to understand that for this reason or for another, it would have found a way to delay its decision and to not respect the will of the population expressed during these elections.

There is no proper refusal of Braima Camara. While he is the coordinator of the political movement that won the second largest number of seats in parliament. Everyone recognizes that it is up to them to nominate the competitor for this position. However, the same regulation stipulates that this must end after an absolute majority vote in parliament. The process was initiated and Braima Camara did not meet the requirements, ie the required majority. Result: willingness was put on the table to question the voting system, or even the rules governing the Assembly and even the constitution. Which of course has not been accepted. The truth is that you have to respect the rules that exist, apply them to another candidate until you get the absolute majority required.

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What exactly does the law say about who should be appointed 2nd Vice-President of the National Assembly?

In art. 27, she said that if "the elections of the vice-presidents and secretaries of the office take place by secret ballot, with election of the candidates having obtained the favorable vote of the absolute majority of the members of the Assembly … if one members is not elected, he must immediately proceed to a new vote at the same meeting to fill the position he occupies on the list ". This provision is clear and it is difficult to understand why it could not be accepted and respected.

Does this situation not lead you to think about questioning the political regime in place in Guinea Bissau? That is to say go from the current parliamentary regime to a presidential regime because the urgencies of the country do not wait.

All systems of government have advantages and disadvantages. None are perfect. We are aware of the imperfections of our system and agree on the need to correct and overcome them. If this debate can help move in this direction, that's good. The powers of the presidential system can be better specified and go in a direction that does not lead to a certain authoritarianism. In truth, political actors must respect the rules of the game. Only then can the system in place function properly.

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Beyond this institutional blocking is the question of the expression of democracy in Africa. How do you imagine on our continent a democracy that is adapted to its political, social and cultural values?

I do not believe in an African democracy. I believe in democracy. The problem is that it requires a set of values ​​and responsibilities that many African actors struggle to respect. Faced with difficulties, laws must not be modified to adapt them to their needs alone. Democracy imposes that the powers respect the rights of the citizens, that they are not exorbitant. The problem is that the African often wants absolute power, but democracy lays down rules whose letter and spirit must be respected regardless of the result we want to achieve. That said, democracy has progressed on the African continent. Greater visibility of good practices in this area is needed to spread culture.

How do you see the future of Guinea-Bissau in the face of all the challenges it faces on the eve of the 21st century, like all African countries elsewhere?

The development of Guinea-Bissau will depend on the choices of Guinean citizens, their will and their determination. Today, despite the difficult situation, awareness and mobilization have increased. For me, there is no reason to think that the future is not promising for a better stability, a better governance from which will emerge a prosperous and viable Guinea-Bissau.

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