President Umaro Sissoco Embalo dissolved Guinea-Bissau’s parliament on Monday and said snap legislative elections would be held this year to resolve a long-running political crisis.
Tension between parliament and the presidency has gripped the West African state for months.
Embalo cited “enduring and intractable differences” with parliament, which he described as “a space for guerrilla politics and conspiracy”.
“This political crisis has depleted the capital of trust between sovereign institutions,” he said.
“I have decided to give the floor back to Guineans so that they can freely choose the parliament they wish to have this year.”
A presidential decree declared that legislative elections would be held on December 18.
The former Portuguese colony of around two million people is notoriously unstable and has suffered four military coups since 1974, the most recent in 2012.
In 2014, Guinea-Bissau vowed to return to democracy, but it has seen little stability since and the armed forces wield considerable influence.
Eleven people died in February in violence described as an attempted coup.
Heavily armed men attacked government buildings in Bissau as the president was presiding over a cabinet meeting.
Embalo, in power since 2019, later told reporters he escaped the five-hour shooting and described the attack as a plot to take down the government.
On February 10, Embalo said a former navy chief was among three men arrested in connection with the attack – which he linked to transatlantic drug trafficking.
Guinea-Bissau is a hub for cocaine trafficking from Latin America to Africa.
Last week, Embalo sacked his economy minister and temporarily handed over his portfolio to the prime minister, according to a decree.
Victor Mandiga was replaced “to guarantee the regular functioning of the institutions”, he specifies.
The ousted minister had recently objected to what he described as the finance ministry’s involvement in some of his ministry’s affairs and the foreign ministry’s oversight of a new secretary of state at the regional integration – one of the responsibilities of his ministry.
Disagreements between Embalo, 49, and parliament have centered on opposition leader Domingos Simoes Pereira, who lost to Embalo in a disputed presidential election in 2019, and his parliamentary immunity.
Guinea-Bissau’s parliament and president also clashed over the distribution of oil resources on the border with Senegal, a revision of the constitution and the announcement of a stabilization force for the West African regional bloc of the ECOWAS.
Monday’s presidential decree accused parliament of shielding MPs suspected of involvement in corruption and refusing to comply with audits of its accounts.