- The 5th Extraordinary Congress of the PAIGC begins today and will run until Sunday, with the affirmation of the party and the alteration of its statutes, which currently prohibit the expulsion of party leaders, on the agenda.
The non-elective congress will take place in Morés, located some 140 kilometers north of Bissau and a symbolic spot during the war for independence from Portugal, when the operations and command of the so-called "Northern Front" were concentrated there.
Carlos Gomes Jr, president of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which was founded during the struggle for the independence of the two former Portuguese colonies, affirmed that 1,053 delegates have signed up to participate, and that more than 40 party members suspended in April will not be taking part. Gomes, who was prime minister of Guinea-Bissau until being fired by President Joăo Bernardo "Nino" Vieira on 28 October, announced that the theme of the congress, "Reaffirmation and Stability of the PAIGC," is self-explanatory.
During the course of the congress, the party's statutes are expected to be revised in order to permit the expulsion of members or leaders who violate the orientations of the party directorship. "According to our statutes, there cannot be any expulsions, which is wrong. But there are proposals to review them, and it will be up to the delegates to approve the alterations that are submitted," stressed the PAIGC's leader.
The PAIGC's internal issues will be the main focus of the congress, which was called especially for this purpose shortly after Nino Vieira was sworn in as president of Guinea-Bissau on 1 October, bringing with him the PAIGC members who had supported him as an independent candidate in the country’s presidential elections.
Among these PAIGC members are high-level party officials, including first vice-president of the PAIGC, Aristides Gomes, who was named prime minister by Vieira following the dismissal of Carlos Gomes Jr's government, and former parliamentary leader Cipriano Cassamá, as well as 13 other National People's Assembly legislators. Aristides Gomes is considered "the most serious case," as he was named prime minister in a presidential decree issued by Nino Vieira.
The PAIGC also hopes to define its strategies regarding activities in parliament and in relation to the international community, investing, according to Carlos Gomes Jr, in "all legal arguments" against the naming of Aristides Gomes as Prime Minister. "We are waiting for the decision from the Supreme Court of Justice regarding the impugnation presented on 4 November of the naming of the new prime minister," affirmed Gomes Jr, insisting that the PAIGC, as the winner of the 2004 legislative elections, is the only party authorised to name Guinea-Bissau's prime minister.
The PAIGC "has a strategy" for the next ordinary session of parliament, which begins Monday, according to the party’s leader, without providing details, which will be discussed at length and approved in this weekend’s congress.
Carlos Gomes Jr has not ruled out the possibility of the party presenting a motion of censure to the government of Aristides Gomes, which the PAIGC considers to be transitional until approved by the parliament. The new executive will have to present a Program of Government subject to approval in the parliament, in which the PAIGC still holds a majority of seats.
"This government, particularly the Prime Minister, is illegal, and, as such, we demand the revoking of the decree that named Aristides Gomes," insists Carlos Gomes Jr, indicating that the PAIGC is "ready" to govern the country "as soon as constitutional legality is restored."
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