Guinea-Bissau appoints consensus premier

Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's president has appointed a consensus prime minister proposed by leading political parties, ceding to their pressure for a new government to rule one of the world's poorest countries.

In a decree issued late on Monday in the small West African state, President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira named as premier Martinho Ndafa Kabi of the opposition African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

After initially resisting, Vieira agreed to make the appointment three weeks after a government headed by a political ally lost a no-confidence vote in parliament. His ally, Aristides Gomes, resigned as prime minister 10 days after the March 19 vote.

The fall of Gomes' government had provoked yet another political crisis in the former Portuguese colony, which has suffered a series of coups and uprisings since its independence in 1974. Its main export is cashew nuts.

The no-confidence motion followed the signing last month of a National Political Stability Pact between the PAIGC and the two ruling coalition parties, the Social Renewal Party (PRS) and the United Social Democratic Party (PUSD).

They had insisted that the president accept their choice of Kabi as prime minister or face street protests.

Vieira won a 2005 election after he was overthrown in a crippling 1998-1999 civil war.

He had previously ruled for nearly 20 years after toppling Guinea-Bissau's first president, Luis Cabral, in 1980.