Abidjan—Sao Tome and Principe's Prime Minister, Maria das Neves, and Chief Justice, Alice Graca, launched an attempt to avert a constitutional crisis on the archipelago following Tuesday's dissolution of parliament by President Fradique de Menezes, news reports said.
Neves and Graca met de Menezes on Thursday to discuss a possible compromise that could nullify the dissolution of parliament and avoid early elections, the Agencia de Noticias de Portugal (Lusa), reported on Friday. The compromise would oblige parliament to pledge to organize a referendum on some constitutional changes, namely those reducing presidential powers.
A constitutional crisis had loomed after several parliamentary leaders
threatened to ignore the dissolution decree and denounced Menezes'
unconstitutional. They said de Menezes was headed
dictatorship, Lusa reported.
De Menezes dissolved the 55-member parliament following a standoff
over constitutional reforms. He said in a decree that there was a
serious political crisis in the country and lawmakers had used
insulting language instead of dialogue with him. Fresh
elections, he added, would be held on April 13.
The parliament had earlier approved a constitutional reform package limiting presidential powers which de Menezes vetoed. The main political parties, the Sao Tome and Principe Liberation Movement (MLSTP) and the coalition of the Democratic Movement Force for Change and the Party of Democratic Convergence, (MDFM-PCD) criticised the veto.
On Tuesday, the parties reacted strongly to the dissolution of the
assembly. The MDFM-PCD, which backed de Menezes to win presidential
elections in September 2001, said other parties had not been
consulted. MLSTP officials described it as a
black page in Sao
Sao Tome and Principe is an island chain of 150,000 people just off the West African country of Gabon.