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President Quits Over Death Threats

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The man appointed interim president of Guinea – Bissau by the side beaten in the December presidential election has stepped down because of death threats , less than two days after being nominated.

“Given the death threats against me and my bodyguards, I have decided to give up the role of interim president for which I was nominated, to avoid a bloodbath in Guinea -Bissau,” said Cipriano Cassama.

“ I fear for my physical integrity ” he said in a press statement , less than 48 hours after he was appointed by the country ’s historic ruling party, the PAIGC.

“ My life and that of my family is in danger. I have no security,” he said. He added that soldiers had come for his bodyguards on Friday .
But he said he would stay on as leader of the National Assembly.

The PAIGC has dominated political life since the former Portuguese colony won independence in 1974 , and on Friday 54 of its deputies , out of the 102 parliamentary seats , appointed Cassama interim president.

Two rival contenders for the presidency have been battling to assume power since the December 29 run -off vote .
Opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo 47, won 53 .55 percent of the votes in the second – round vote , according to the National Electoral Commission.

Domingos Simoes Pereira, 56, also from PAIGC, won 46.45 percent, but denounced the result as fraudulent.

The Supreme Court, responding to a petition by the PAIGC, ordered a check of the vote tally sheets, but this has failed to resolve the dispute , with a row breaking out between the Supreme Court and the election panel .

On Thursday , Embalo conducted his own presidential swearing -in ceremony and moved himself into the presidential palace, without waiting for a final ruling from the Supreme Court .

On Friday , he appointed Nuno Gomes Nabiam as prime minister after sacking the internationally recognised incumbent Aristides Gomes .
Embalo, a former prime minister who fell out with the ruling party, styled himself as the outsider in the election campaign . He has vowed to break with the decades-long domination of the PAIGC .

But after soldiers occupied the prime minister’s office on Friday evening, according to an AFP correspondent , Gomes denounced what he described as “ attempted coup ” , in a statement on his Facebook page.

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 1974 , the last one in 2012 .

One of the world s poorest countries , it is also ranked as one of the most corrupt .
Drug traffickers use it as a transit point, moving cocaine in from Latin America towards Europe , with the suspected cooperation of army officers.

Credit: AFP

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