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Guinea-Bissau president sacks five ministers

FILE PHOTO: Guinea-Bissau's newly elected President, former Prime Minister and ex-army general, Umaro Cissoko Embalo speaks during a news conference in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau January 1, 2020. REUTERS/Alberto Dabo

BISSAU (Reuters) - Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo has dismissed five government ministers, including the ministers of defence and the interior, according to a decree released on Sunday.

He did not state the reason for the dismissal of the ministers, who are all members of Embalo’s MADEM-15 party or parties loyal to the president.

The move heightens the political uncertainty in the tiny West African nation, where Embalo’s declared electoral win after a December vote has been contested by runner-up Domingos Simoes Pereira and his powerful PAIGC party.

“It is a strategy for Umaro Sissoco Embalo to gain the majority at the parliament,” pro-PAIGC website Ditadura de Consenso said in an online analysis following the release of the decree.

The ministers’ dismissal comes ahead of a parliamentary session on Monday, when lawmakers are expected to debate which political alliances have the right to govern the country.

The post-election turmoil has dashed hopes that the vote would end years of institutional chaos.

Former president Jose Mario Vaz cycled through seven prime ministers in five years amid a dispute with the PAIGC, which controlled the most seats in parliament.

Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Kim Coghill