The situation in São Tomé e Príncipe has been difficult in recent months, culminating in the replacement of the ADI government by a new coalition government. There is a nice briefing document by Gerhard Seibert on the situation available here.
Now, a new controversy has broken out and, like the previous post on Slovakia, it sheds light on another presidential power/non-power. According to various reports in Téla Nón, the story seems to go something like this.
In March 2012 the then ADI government issued a resolution in the Council of Ministers stating that São Tomé e Príncipe recognised the independence of Kosovo. The problem is that President Manuel Pinto da Costa did not issue a decree ratifying the decision. The president’s approval was necessary for the decision to become law. (Parliament did not debate the issue either, but it seems as if parliament’s approval was not necessary).
In July 2012 President Pinto da Costa sent a letter to the government asking for more information about the resolution. It seems as if no formal reply was forthcoming, though the ADI say that the president was fully briefed about the issue.
Anyway, with the ADI government now out of office, the president has issued a formal communication stating that São Tomé e Príncipe does not recognise the independence of Kosovo. The current government seems to be happy with this position. By contrast, the ADI has reacted badly, accusing the president of trying to destroy the work that it had undertaken in office.
There seems to have been some international pressure behind these different decisions. Leaving that aside, what is interesting is that this is another example of a de facto presidential veto power. The ADI government clearly wanted to pursue a particular policy. The president, for whatever reason, did not. By simply refusing to ratify the government’s resolution, the policy was not properly implemented. Only now has the president formally opposed the decision.