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Guinea-Bissau: The Everlasting Return To Institutional Instability – OpEd

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By Paulo Gorjão

Similarly to Sisyphus — condemned to push a rock up a mountain, only to see it roll down time and again to the starting point as soon as the top was reached — Guinea- Bissau also appears doomed to repeatedly and everlastingly return to a state of institutional instability.

The reasons keep shifting according to circumstances, yet the crisis reoccurs cyclically, with profound negative consequences as regards to institutional stability and governability in Guinea-Bissau.

The recurring failure in managing and steering political differences through dialogue certainly has multifarious explanations, namely of a cultural and sociological nature. That said, we can add an additional one of political nature: the semi-presidential system which, in an adverse context such as in Guinea-Bissau, also contributes to fostering and exacerbating conflict.

Semi-presidentialism establishes two power centers, both of which are democratically legitimized by direct, secret and periodic universal suffrage. In absence of a solid capacity for dialogue and a consolidated democrat- ic regime, political conflict between the president and the prime-minister is almost inevitable.

To the long list of deep and difficult reforms in Guinea- Bissau’s agenda one should add yet one more: a review of the constitution towards adopting a presidential regime. This will not solve every single problem in Guinea-Bissau, but it will certainly help prevent and palliate some of them.

About the author:
*Paulo Gorjão, Researcher at Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS)

Source:
Article published in Diário Económico (14 August 2015) and IPRIS as IPRIS Viewpoints 178 (PDF)

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IPRIS

The Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS) is a non-profit and independent NGO, based in Lisbon. IPRIS is an institution dedicated to research on issues of International Relations, with particular interest regarding Portuguese foreign and defense policies.

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