Prime Minister Fadul takes oath of office

Guinea-Bissau’s government of national unity was installed on Saturday with the swearing into office of Prime Minister Francesco Fadul, news reports said.

Speaking on the occasion, Fadul said that the disruption caused by the civil war made it impossible for him to organise national elections sooner than September, Reuters reported. Under a peace accord signed in December 1998, that ended months of an army rebellion against President Joao Bernardo Vieira, the elections were to have been held by end March at the latest.

Fadul’s swearing-in ceremony was attended by Togolese Prime Minister Kwassi Kloutse, who represented President Gnassingbe Eyadema as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, his Gambian counterpart Sadat Jobe, Senegal’s Interior Minister Lamine Cise and other representatives from ECOWAS and neighboring Guinea. The event came a week after an accord was reached between Vieira and his rival, rebel leader and former army chief Ansumane Mane.

Vieira has appointed five ministers and three state secretaries to the cabinet and Mane has chosen four ministers and an equal number of state secretaries, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

The agency said the foreign and justice ministers, Hilia Barber and Carlos Domingos, were Vieira appointees. Ministers of defence, the interior, and the economy - Silvestre Alves, Caetano Intchama and Abubacar Dahaba - were named by Mane’s Military Junta. The only official from the previous government is Pinho Brando, former secretary of state for energy. He is now the minister of agriculture.

Fadul had said he would not take office before troops from Guinea and Senegal, who have been backing Vieira since the June army rebellion, had left the country. Some 900 Senegalese soldiers from a total of 2,500 have reportedly begun to withdraw.