Category Archives: São Tomé e Príncipe

São Tomé e Príncipe – Another presidential (non-)power

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.

São Tomé e Príncipe – New Coalition

The government crisis in São Tomé e Príncipe has been resolved for the time being.

Last month, the Acção Democrática Independente (ADI) government, which was in a minority situation, was defeated in a motion of censure. The ADI wanted to hold new legislative elections. However, the main opposition party, the Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe/Partido Social Democrata (MLSTP/PSD) wanted to have the chance to form a government.

Now, Téla Nón reports that the president, Manuel Pinto da Costa, who is technically an independent but who is a historic leader of the MLSTP/PSD, has appointed Gabriel Arcanjo Ferreira da Costa from the MLSTP/PSD UDD as the new PM.

Gabriel Costa has formed a three-party coalition. In addition to the MLSTP/PSD, the government includes the two other parties represented in the legislature, the Partido de Convergência Democrática (PCD) and the Movimento Democrático das Forças da Mudança-Partido Liberal (MDFM-PL). In addition it is reported that the government includes a representative of the União dos Democratas para a Cidadania e Desenvolvimento (UDD) party, which split from the ADI but which does not have any seats in parliament.

The ADI refuses the recognise the government and still calls for elections. However, even without the ADI members present, parliamentary work has started again.

São Tomé e Príncipe – Government defeated in censure motion

In São Tomé e Príncipe the Independent Democratic Action (ADI) government led by PM Patrice Trovoada has been defeated in a motion of no-confidence.

The opposition Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party (MLSTP/PSD) put down the motion for a series of reasons that are available in Portuguese here. Jornal ST reports that the motion was passed 29 votes to 0 with 0 abstentions. Yes, that means the ADI deputies did not vote against the motion of no-confidence. That said, the ADI has the support of only 26 deputies. Therefore, given the PCD and MDFM deputies were always likely to support the MLSTP/PSD’s motion, there was no likelihood of the government surviving.

The situation is potentially destabilising. The ADI want early elections to be held. However, for this to happen the President, Manuel Pinto da Costa, has to dissolve the legislature. The problem for the ADI is that President Pinto da Costa is close to the MLSTP/PSD. Therefore, he has little incentive to accede to the ADI’s request. There are also financial implications for holding early elections. The ADI have threatened to take to the streets to try to force the president’s hand. For its part, the MLSTP/PSD may be able to form a government of its own, especially if the other parties in parliament are willing to join a coalition. There is also the possibility of a technocratic government.

President Pinto da Costa convened a meeting of the Council of State to take advice about the situation. He will be making an address to the nation tonight.

São Tomé e Príncipe – One deputy can make a difference

An ongoing dispute in the parliament of São Tomé e Príncipe has been resolved, at least for the present.

The issue concerns Sebastião (Amândio) Pinheiro. He was elected as a deputy for the Partido da Convergência Democrática (PCD) in August 2010. Earlier this year he decided that he wished to leave the PCD and become an Independent deputy. The PCD rejected this decision and, considering Deputy Pinheiro to have resigned his seat, appointed a PCD substitute. However, Deputy Pinheiro had not formally resigned. So, parliament was operating with 56 instead of the mandated 55 deputies.

The issue remained unresolved for months. Anyway, last week the matter was decided. Téla Nón reports that the Assembly debated the situation. The opposition parties voted together to remove Deputy Pinheiro’s mandate, leaving 54 deputies in the Assembly. The vote was 28 votes to 25 with one abstention. The ruling party’s motion to allow Deputy Pinheiro to become an Independent was defeated.

The key issue here is that it makes the ruling Acção Democrática Independente (ADI) party’s position more precarious. Currently, they have 26 of the 55 seats in the parliament. So, they are in a minority, They had hoped that Deputy Pinheiro might support them. If they could then win the vote of the sole representative of the Movimento Democrático das Forças da Mudança-Partido Liberal (MDFM-PL) party, then they would have a bare majority. However, without Deputy Pinheiro the opposition PCD and Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe/Partido Social Democrata (MLSTP-PSD) parties still have a clear majority and the governing ADI is in a minority.

Recall that the president, Manuel Pinto da Costa, who was elected in August 2011, is an independent. However, prior to democratisation in 1990 he was the president of the country, which was then ruled as a one-party state by the MLSTP. So, while he seems to have been relatively inactive over the last year, he is not necessarily someone whom the government can rely on. Again, this makes their position less secure.

São Tomé – Government has a majority?

There is an interesting situation in São Tomé e Príncipe.

The 2010 legislative election left the ADI party in power with 26 of 52 seats in the legislature. It usually has the support of the sole MDFM-PL deputy, leaving it one short of a majority.

The change is that a deputy, Amândio Pinheiro, from the opposition PCD party, which had 7 seats, has changed his affiliation to an independent. The logic of the move is that if he votes with the government, then it has the support of 28 deputies, or an absolute majority.

However, the deputy’s right to change affiliation is being challenged. Téla Nón is reporting that in the previous legislature, four deputies from the ADI made the same move, provoking a change in the legislature’s standing orders to the effect that such moves were no longer possible.

As a result, the PCD is acting on the basis that Pinheiro is no longer a deputy and has appointed a substitute to replace him. So, currently, there are 56 deputies!

The pro-government Speaker of the Assembly has ruled in the government’s favour. However, the situation is creating an institutional crisis because the stakes are very high. Watch this space.

São Tomé – Presidential election

The first round of the presidential election in São Tomé and Príncipe was held on Sunday. Here are the results from Jornal ST:

Manuel Pinto da Costa: 35,85% (independent) 
Evaristo Carvalho: 21,82% (official candidate of the ADI)
Maria das Neves: 14,03% (MLSTP-PSD)
Delfim Neves: 13,89% (official candidate of the PCD)
Elsa Pinto: 4,55% (independent)
Aurélio Martins: 4,15% (official candidate of the MLSTP-PSD)
Filinto Costa Alegre: 4,14% (independent)
Jorge Coelho: 0,64% (independent)
Helder Barros: 0,63% (independent)
Manuel de Deus Lima: 0,35% (independent)

Abstention: 48%

So, there will be a second round to be held on 7 August.

Manuel Pinto da Costa is a former president, who held office from 1975-1991 during the one-party system. However, he did manage the successful transition to democracy. He stood unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1996 and 2001. He was the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party (MLSTP/PSD), but is standing as an independent this time around.

Evaristo Carvalho has been prime minister for two brief periods, most recently in 2002. He represents the Independent Democratic Action (ADI) party. The ADI currently holds the premiership.

Details of all 10 presidential candidates are available here.

São Tomé – New PM

In São Tomé and Príncipe a new government has been formed. It is a single-party government led by Patrice Trovoada, the leader of the Acção Democrática Independente (Independent Democratic Action – ADI), which was the largest party following the recent legislative election, winning 26 of the 55 seats in parliament.

In addition to the PM, there are nine ministers and one secretary of state. There are three ‘civil society’ ministers in the government, according to Téla Nón. There is only one former minister in the new government and two ministers are less than 35 years of age.

Given President Fradique de Menezes represents the Movimento Democrático das Forças da Mudança-Partido Liberal (MDFM-PL), PM Trovoada’s appointment means that there is another period of cohabitation in São Tomé. (For a full list, see previous post).

The legislature has yet to convene. So, we will have to wait and see whether Trovoada’s minority government survives when parliament does meet.

São Tomé – Local and regional elections

This is turning into São Tomé e Príncipe week. Anyhow, municipal and regional elections were held on the island on 25 July, one week before the legislative election. Not least because the National Electoral Commission does not have a website, it has proven extremely difficult to get any information about the election, even from local São Tomé news sites. Still, I have found one report in Notícias Lusófonas.

This is the summary of the results at the national level.

Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe/Partido Social Democrata (Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party – MLSTP/PSD) – 19,577 votes, 31 seats
Acção Democrática Independente (Independent Democratic Action – ADI) – 19,321 votes, 17 seats
Partido para da Convergência Democrática (Democratic Convergence Party – PCD), 12,597 votes, 4 seats
Movimento Democrático Força de Mudança/Partido Liberal (Force for Change Democratic Movement/Liberal Party – MDFM/PL) – 8,864 votes, 0 seats

According to the report, 59 seats were in play. Presumably local parties won the remainder of the seats.

So, the MLSTP/PSD seems to have done better at the local elections than at the legislative election, though the ADI, which was the winner of the legislative election, did win the two biggest local councils. Again the president’s party, MDFM/PL, did very badly. Given the MDFM/PL was formed when it split from the ADI, presumably MDFM/PL voters have gone back to the ADI.

In the regional election in Príncipe, the president of the regional government, José Cassandra, was re-elected. His three-party alliance of the ADI, PCD and MDFM-PL won all seven seats, leaving the MLSTP/PSD with no seats as was the case after the 2006 elections.

The results of the 2006 local elections are available here.

São Tomé – Legislative election (re-run)

In São Tomé e Príncipe legislative elections for two seats were re-run on Sunday. They were rescheduled because of problems the previous week when the election proper was held. According to a São Tomé source, in Belém there was no water and voters refused to go to the polls. In Montalvão there were irregularities and the Electoral Commission ordered a re-run.

The election was potentially significant given the closeness of the result the previous week. Below was the original result:

Acção Democrática Independente (Independent Democratic Action – ADI), 26 deputies
MLSTP/PSD, 21 deputies
PCD, 7 deputies
MDFM-PL, 1 deputy
Total, 55 deputies

Anyway, Il Publico reports that the PCD won the most votes in the re-run, but not enough to win an extra seat, which would have deprived the president’s MDFM-PL party of any representation. So, the same distribution of seats remains.

The ADI website seems to suggest that an alliance with the MLSTP/PSD or the PCD is not possible. If so, then those two parties may form a coalition. However, just about any combination is probably still possible.