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Fradique de Menezes

Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes was born on March 21, 1942 in Agua Telha, Madalena, on the island of São Tomé, being the son of a Portuguese and a mulatto.

He served in Mozambique in the Portuguese Army.

He studied Psychology in Belgium.

After Sao Tome and Principe became independent, on July 12, 1975, Fradique de Menezes joined the MLSTP (Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe), of Marxist influence. This party took over, under the presidency of Manuel Pinto da Costa.

Under a single party regime, Menezes began his career in politics and in 1986 was appointed by Pinto da Costa Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. He was only one year in the position since in 1987 he was named ambassador of his country in the European Community and, later, in Belgium and in Germany.

In 1991 the process of democratization of São Tomé and Príncipe led to the holding of free elections and Pinto da Costa was replaced in power by his opponent Miguel Trovoada. Meanwhile, the MLSTP had also been renamed the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

Fradique de Menezes opted to abandon politics and dedicated himself to the business of exporting cocoa and importing cement. In a short time he became the most successful businessman in the country.

In 1992 he assumed the presidency of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

He returned to politics and with the support of the Trovoada party, the Democratic Democrat Action (ADI), of a centrist tendency, applied for the presidency. On July 29 of that year he won the presidential election and took office on September 3 for a five-year term.

However, its governance was soon marked by political tensions, constitutional and institutional crises because it had to have a majority parliament of the MLSTP. Fradique de Menezes decided to call early legislative elections on March 3, 2002 to try to gain more leeway.

However, it continued to fail to secure a parliamentary majority and appointed a government with the participation of all political forces with parliamentary seats.

After a new series of crises, she appointed Maria das Neves de Sousa, of the MLSTP-PSD, the prime minister, on October 3.

On January 21, 2003 Fradique de Menezes dissolved the assembly and called for elections for April 13, which, however, would not take place.

The climate of instability led to a military coup on 16 July 2003 led by Major Fernando Pereira. The coup leaders took advantage of the president's visit to Nigeria to take over government buildings, arrest the prime minister and dissolve the state organs. Next, they formed a Military Junta of National Salvation, led by Fernando Pereira.

On July 23, the coup returned Fradique de Menezes to power due to strong international pressure.

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