54. São Tomé and Príncipe (1975-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (July 12, 1975-February 28, 1978):  São Tomé and Príncipe formally achieved its independence from Portugal on July 12, 1975, and Manuel Pinto da Costa of the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (Movimento Libertacao de São Tomé e Príncipe – MLSTP) assumed the presidency.  President Manuel Pinto da Costa appointed Miguel Anjos da Cunha Lisboa Trovoada as prime minister on July 12, 1975.  President Manuel Pinto da Costa nationalized the Portuguese-owned cocoa plantations in September 1975.

Crisis Phase (March 1, 1978-April 3, 1991):  In March 1978, the government suppressed an attempted mercenary invasion led by former Minister of Social Affairs Carlos da Graça, one of the co-founders of the MLSTP who had been exiled from the country in 1977.  The governments of Angola and Guinea-Bissau deployed some 1,500 troops in support of the government in March 1978.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU) sent a fact-finding mission to investigate the attempted mercenary invasion of São Tomé and Príncipe.  On July 18, 1978, the OAU Council of Ministers condemned the attempted mercenary invasion in São Tomé and Príncipe.  President Manuel Pinto da Costa dismissed Prime Minister Miguel Trovoada and abolished the office of prime minister on April 9, 1979.  The Democratic Opposition Coalition (Coligacao Democratica da Oposicao – CODO) was established in opposition to the government by the Independent Democratic Union of São Tomé and Príncipe (Uniao Democratica Independente de São Tomé e Príncipe – UDISTP) and the São Tomé and Príncipe National Resistence Front (Frente da Resistencia Nacional de São Tomé e Príncipe – FRNSTP) in Lisbon, Portugal on March 19, 1986.  Carlos da Graça resigned as head of the FRNSTP on May 11, 1986.  President Manuel Pinto da Costa re-established the office of prime minister and appointed Celestino Rocha da Costa as prime minister on January 8, 1988.  The government suppressed a rebellion by members of the FRNSTP on February 25-March 8, 1988, resulting in the deaths of three rebels.  Legislative elections were held on January 20, 1991, and the Democratic Convergence Party (Partido de Convergencia Democratica – PCD) won 33 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe – Social Democratic Party (Movimento Libertacao de São Tomé e Príncipe – Partido Social Democrata – MLSTP-PSD) won 21 seats in the National Assembly.  Prime Minister Rocha da Costa resigned on January 25, 1991, and Daniel Lima dos Santos Daio of the PCD formed a government as prime minister on February 8, 1991.  Former Prime Minister Miguel Trovoada was elected president with 100 percent of the vote on March 3, 1991, and he was inaugurated as president on April 3, 1991.  Angolan troops, which had been deployed in support of the government since March 1978, were withdrawn from the country in 1991.

Post-Crisis Phase (April 4, 1991-August 14, 1995):  Prime Minister Daniel Daio was dismissed on April 22, 1992, and Norberto Jose d’Alva Costa Alegre was appointed as prime minister on April 23, 1992.  President Miguel Trovoada dismissed the government of Prime Minister Costa Alegre, and appointed Evaristo do Espirito Santo Carvalho as prime minister on July 2, 1994.  President Miguel Trovoada dissolved the National Assembly on July 10, 1994.  Legislative elections were held on October 2, 1994, and the MLSTP-PSD won 27 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The PCD won 14 seats in the National Assembly.  President Miguel Trovoada appointed Carlos da Graça of the MLSTP-PSD as prime minister on October 25, 1994.

Crisis Phase (August 15, 1995-August 21, 1995):  President Miguel Trovoada and Prime Minister Carlos da Graça were overthrown in a military coup led by Lt. Fernando Sousa Pontes and Lt. Manuel Quintas de Almeida on August 15, 1995.  One member of the presidential guard and one government soldier were killed during the military coup.  The military coup was condemned by the governments of France, Portugal, U.S., Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gabon, Mozambique, and South Africa.  The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) also condemned the military coup.  Lt. Manuel Quintas de Almeida appointed Francisco Fortunato Pires as interim president on August 17, 1995.  The Angolan government offered to mediate negotiations between the parties on August 17, 1995, and External Relations Minister Venancio da Silva Moura of Angola mediated negotiations between the parties on August 18-21, 1995.  President Trovoada and Prime Minister Carlos da Graça were restored to power on August 21, 1995.

Post-Crisis Phase (August 22, 1995-July 15, 2003):  President Miguel Trovoada appointed Armindo Vaz de Almeida as prime minister on December 29, 1995.  The first round of presidential elections was held on June 30, 1996.  President Miguel Trovoada was re-elected with 53 percent of the vote in a run-off election on July 21, 1996.  The government of Prime Minister Armindo Vaz d’Almeida collapsed after a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly on September 20, 1996.  President Miguel Trovoada appointed Raul Braganca as prime minister on November 13, 1996.  Legislative elections were held on November 8, 1998, and the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe – Social Democratic Party (Movimento Libertacao de São Tomé e Príncipe – Partido Social Democrata – MLSTP-PSD) won 31 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The Democratic Convergence Party (Partido de Convergencia Democratica-PCD) won eight seats in the National Assembly.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU), Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), and Portugal sent observers to monitor the legislative elections.  Guilherme Posser da Costa of the MLSTP-PSD formed a government as prime minister on January 5, 1999.  Fradique de Menezes of the Independent Democratic Action (Acção Democrática Independente – ADI) was elected president with 56 percent of the vote on July 29, 2001, and he was inaugurated as president on September 3, 2001.  Manuel Pinto da Costa of the MLSTP-PSD won 38 percent of the vote.  The governments of Angola, Taiwan, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, and Nigeria sent observers to monitor the presidential election.  President Menezes formed a government of “presidential initiative” on September 26, 2001, resulting in a boycott of the National Assembly by the MLSTP-PSD beginning on September 27, 2001. President Menezes dissolved the National Assembly on December 8, 2001.  Legislative elections were held on March 3, 2002, and the MLSTP-PSD won 24 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The coalition consisting of the Democratic Movement of Forces for Change-Liberal Party (Movimento Democrático das Forças da Mudança-Partido Liberal – MDFM-PL) and the Democratic Convergence Party (Partido de Convergencia Democratica – PCD) won 23 seats in the National Assembly.  President Fradique de Menzes appointed Gabriel Costa as prime minister on March 26, 2002.  On April 24, 2002, Major Fernando Pereira, a member of the armed forces of São Tomé and Príncipe, publicly complained of poor living conditions in the military barracks, the six-months arrears of wages, and obsolete military equipment.  President Fradique de Menzes dismissed the government of Prime Minister Gabriel Costa on September 27, 2002.  President Fradique de Menzes appointed Maria das Neves of the MLSTP as prime minister on October 7, 2002.  In December 2002, the National Assembly approved an amendment to the constitution which would limit the executive powers of the president and strengthen the legislative powers of the National Assembly.  President Fradique de Menzes dissolved the National Assembly and called for early elections on January 22, 2003.  After an agreement to delay the implementation of the constitutional amendment to 2006, President Fradique de Menzes rescinded his decision to dissolve the National Assembly on January 28, 2003.  Government police clashed with protesters in São Tomé on April 17, 2003, resulting in the death of one individual.  On June 15, 2003, Major Fernando Pereira sent a list of demands to President Fradique de Menzes and Prime Minister Maria des Neves.

Crisis Phase (July 16, 2003-July 23, 2003):  President Fradique de Menzes was deposed in a military coup led by Major Fernando Pereira on July 16, 2003.  Major Fernando Pereira, head of the Junta of National Salvation, declared a state of emergency on July 16, 2003.  The Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), U.S. government, President Olesegum Obasanjo of Nigeria, Portuguese government, French government, European Union (EU), UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, South African government, and Ghanian government condemned the military coup on July 17, 2003.  The CPLP sent a five-member delegation headed by Osvaldo Serra Van Dunem of Angola to mediate negotiations between the rebels led by Major Pereira and the government of President Fradique de Menzes beginning on July 18, 2003, and the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) sent a delegation headed by Jean Ping of Gabon to mediate negotiations between the parties beginning on July 19, 2003.  The governments of Nigeria, South Africa, and the U.S. attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties beginning on July 19, 2003.  Major Pereira and President Fradique de Menzes signed a memorandum of understanding – which included a general amnesty for the military personnel involved in the military coup – mediated by the CPLP, CEEAC, Nigerian government, U.S. government, and South African government on July 23, 2003.

Post-Crisis Phase (July 24, 2003-present):  On July 24, 2003, the National Assembly approved a general amnesty for the military personnel involved in the recent military coup.  Prime Minister Maria das Neves submitted her letter of resignation on August 1, 2003, but President Fradique de Menzes re-appointed her as prime minister on August 4, 2003.  Prime Minister Maria das Neves formed a new 13-member government on August 9, 2003.  Legislative elections were held on March 26, 2006, and the coalition consisting of the Democratic Movement of Forces for Change-Liberal Party (Movimento Democrático das Forças da Mudança-Partido Liberal – MDFM-PL) and the Democratic Convergence Party (Partido de Convergencia Democratica-PCD) won 23 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe – Social Democratic Party (Movimento Libertacao de São Tomé e Príncipe – Partido Social Democrata – MLSTP-PSD) won 20 seats in the National Assembly.  Tomé Soares da Vera Cruz of the MDFM-PL formed a government as prime minister on April 21, 2006.  President Fradique de Menzes was re-elected with 61 percent of the vote on July 30, 2006.  Prime Minister Tomé Vera Cruz announced his resignation on February 7, 2008, and Patrice Trovoada formed a government as prime minister on February 14, 2008.  On May 20, 2008, the National Assembly approved a motion of no-confidence against the government of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada.  Joaquim Rafael Branco of the MLSTP-PSD formed a new government as prime minister on June 22, 2008.  Legislative elections were held on August 1, 2010, and the Independent Democratic Action (Acção Democrática Independente – ADI) won 26 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party (Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe/Partido Social Democrata – MLSTP/PSD) won 21 seats in the National Assembly.  The African Union (AU) sent 12 observers led by Leonardo Simao of Mozambique to monitor the legislative elections.  Patrice Trovoada of the ADI formed a government as prime minister on August 14, 2010.  Manuel Pinto da Costa was elected president in the second round of presidential elections on August 7, 2011, and he was sworn in as president on September 3, 2011.  The National Assembly approved a censure motion against the government of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada on November 29, 2012.  The government of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada was dismissed by President Manuel Pinto da Costa on December 4, 2012, and Gabriel Costa formed a new government as prime minister on December 12, 2012.  Brig. Felisberto Maria Segundo resigned as head of the military on February 13, 2014, and he was replaced by Colonel Justino Lima on February 19, 2014.  Legislative elections were held on October 12-15, 2014, and the ADI won 33 out of 55 seats in the National Assembly.  The MLSTP/PSD won 16 seats in the National Assembly.  The Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) sent 21 observers led by Ambassador Luis Fonseca of Cape Verde to monitor the legislative elections.  The African Union (AU) sent 24 observers led by França Van-Dúnem of Angola to monitor the legislative elections from October 5 to October 19, 2014.

[Sources: Africa Diary, December 3-9, 1979; Africa Research Bulletin (ARB), April 15, 1986, April 15, 1988; African Union (AU) press release, September 23, 2014, October 20, 2014; Angola Press Agency (APA), August 20, 2003; Associated Press (AP), November 24, 1998, July 17, 2003, July 19, 2003; Banks and Muller, 1998, 793-796; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), November 9, 1998, December 24, 1998, August 1, 2001, March 19, 2002, July 16, 2003, July 17, 2003, July 19, 2003, July 24, 2003, July 31, 2006, August 8, 2011; Degenhardt, 1988, 316; European Union (EU) press release, August 18, 1995; Keesing’s Record of World Events, January 1991, March 1991, April 1992, July 1994, October 1994, August 1995, July 1996, September 1996, November 1996, November 1998, January 1999; New York Times (NYT), March 9, 1988, March 14, 1988, March 20, 2002; Reuters, October 7, 2002, January 22, 2003, July 16, 2003, July 18, 2003, July 20, 2003, July 25, 2003, July 17, 2011, July 18, 2011, August 8, 2011, February 11, 2014, February 19, 2014, October 13, 2014, October 14, 2014; The Guardian (Lagos), August 2, 2001.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Lere, Amusan. 2006. “São Tomé and Príncipe in International Oil Politics,” African Journal of International Affairs & Development, vol. 11 (2), pp. 117-149.

Seibert, Gerhard. 1996. “São Tomé and Príncipe: Military Coup as a Lesson,” Lusotopie, pp. 71-80.

Seibert, Gerhard. 2003. “The Bloodless Coup of July 16 in São Tomé and Príncipe,” Lusotopie, pp. 245-260.