Category Archives: Guinea-Bissau


Guinea-Bissau – Coup

There has been a coup in Guinea-Bissau. The interim president, the prime minister and various ministers have been detained. The constitution has been suspended.

The coup comes just two weeks before the second round of the presidential election. At the first round, Carlos Gomes Júnior of the PAIGC only just failed to gain a majority. The second round was due to be held on 29 April. However, the other second round candidate, Koumba Yalá, who is a former president and who was himself previously toppled in a coup, had called for the second round to be boycotted. He is from a different ethnic community to Carlos Gomes Júnior and he would clearly have lost the election. So, this was probably just politicking, but it didn’t help to create a sense of stability.

Officially, the coup was in response to claims that the government had reached a secret agreement with Angolan military forces to take over the country’s own military forces following the presidential election. Jeune Afrique reports that there has been an Angolan UN-backed force in Guinea-Bissau since last year.

It seems as if the majority of the military in Guinea-Bissau supports the coup.


Guinea-Bissau – Presidential election 1st round

The first round of the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau was held on 18 March. Provisional results are available from Jornal Nô Pintcha.

Carlos Gomes Júnior (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde – PAIGC), 48.97%
Koumba Yalá (Partido para a Renovação Social – PRS), 23,36%
Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo (current president of the National Assembly), 15,74%
Henrique Pereira Rosa (independent, former interim President of the Republic), 5.4%
Baciro Dja (current Minister of Defense), 3.26%
Afonso Té, 1.39%
Vicente Fernandes, 1.04%
Serifo Baldé, 0.46%
Luis Nancassa, 0.37%

Turnout 55%.

So, the second round will match the former PM, Carlos Gomes Júnior, against the former President of the Republic, Koumba Yalá.

There is little doubt about the result of the second round. Koumba Yalá polls heavily among his ethnic group, but he is unlikely to have wider appeal especially after his disastrous presidency previously and also because the ruling PAIGC remains popular.


Guinea-Bissau – PM steps down

Following the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá, the date of the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau has been set for 18 March.

The Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Júnior, who, like President Sanhá, is from the PAIGC party, has announced that he will be a candidate. Bissau Digital is reporting 15 candidates. There is the possibility that not all are eligible to stand.

Given he is a candidate, No Pintcha is reporting that Gomes Júnior has stepped down as PM. He has been replaced by a minister in the president’s office, Maria Adiato Djaló Nandigna.

The interim president is Raimundo Pereira, who was previously the President of the National Assembly. He is also from the PAIGC.

Guinea-Bissau – President dies

President Malam Bacai Sanhá of Guinea-Bissau has died.

As noted in a recent post, his health had been the source of speculation for some time. It has now been confirmed that he had been receiving treatment in Paris for the last two months. He passed away yesterday.

Guinea-Bissau – Attempted coup

There are reports of a failed military coup in Guinea-Bissau. The conflict seems to have lasted for a fairly short amount of time and seems to have taken place between different elements of the military rather than against the government itself. However, there are also reports that civilian politicians were involved in the plot and that arrests will follow.

Meanwhile, there has been plenty of recent speculation about the health of President Malam Bacai Sanhá. He seems to have received medical treatment in Senegal and now France. There have been reports that he is in a coma. Certainly, he has not been active in the country for some time.

Guinea-Bissau – Protests against PM

Over the last few weeks there have opposition protests against the prime minister of Guinea-Bissau, Carlos Gomes Júnior. According to a report in Bissau Digital, the street-level protests have been against the PM personally rather than against the government or the ruling PAICV PAIGC party generally. The prime minister is accused of having a role in political assassinations in the country.

Bissau Digital also reports that last week in response to the protests calling for the PM’s resignation the president of Guinea-Bissau, Malam Bacai Sanha, stated that there were “not sufficient reasons” to call into question the normal functioning of the institutions. To me, this does not sound like a ringing endorsement.

Guinea-Bissau has a president-parliamentary system. Therefore, the president can dismiss the PM. However, the support of the army and its various factions is a dominant factor in any change in power.

Guinea-Bissau – A very strange coup indeed

In Guinea-Bissau the coup seems to have run its course. The prime minister, Carlos Gomes Júnior, is free and is reported as declaring the matter as merely an “incident”. The leader of the coup, António Indjai, is also reported as saying that the incident is now over. For his part, the president, Malam Bacai Sanhá, is preparing to leave for Luanda and, according to the report in Notícias Lusófonas, is seemingly unworried about what happened last week. It is slightly unclear what has happened to the (former?) head of the armed forces, José Zamora Induta, who, in the end, may end up being the main victim of the events.

To the best of my knowledge, there was never any suspension of the Constitution. Moreover, the president was always in office (seemingly he was close to Indjai) and the PM is now apparently back at work. So, there seems to have been no change at any point in Guinea-Bissau’s semi-presidential status. Obviously, though, the underlying situation remains unstable.

Guinea-Bissau – Coup, PM held

There has been a coup in Guinea-Bissau. The prime minister, Carlos Gomes Júnior, was apparently ‘arrested’ by forces loyal to the deputy head of the army, Antonio Indjai, yesterday morning.

Jeune Afrique reports that the PM was arrested in his office, but that he is being held at his own house. In a press conference, General Indjai threatened to kill the prime minister if the supporters of the democratically elected regime failed to leave the streets where they were demonstrating in support of the prime minister.

In addition to the PM, the head of the armed forces, Zamora Induta, was taken. His whereabouts are “unknown” according to Indjai.

The motivation for the coup seems to go back to the events of March 2009 when President João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was killed only hours after the head of the army, Tagmé Na Waié, was himself killed. It has been assumed that forces loyal to each party were responsible for the tit-for-tat assassinations. General Indjai is reported as saying that PM Gomes and General Induta will have to “pay for their crimes”.

However, if you read Portuguese, then there is a nice, and seemingly plausible, story in Bissau Digital today that links the coup with the government’s recent attempts to crack down on the drug-trafficking regime in the country.

Moreover, Jeune Afrique has updated the story. They report that there have been talks between the president, Malam Bacai Sanha, who is apparently close the General Indjai, and PM Gomes. The matter is now being reported as “matter of confusion” between officers. Seemingly, the government was going to arrest Bubo Na Tchuto, an ally of General Indjai, last week in the context of an attempted coup previously, though the drug connection seems strong.

The bottom line is that the president still seems to be in charge and that constitutional authority may yet be restored quickly.

Amended 17.30, 2 April 2010

Guinea-Bissau – President calls for constitutional reform

Bissau Digital is reporting that the (relatively) newly elected president of Guinea-Bissau, Malam Bacai Sanhá, is calling for a “profound revision and modernisation” of the constitution, arguing that it was open to interpretation.

Last week, at the opening session of the National Assembly, he made a plea for constitutional reform. The specifics were few, as far as I can tell, though he did call for more transparency and a reform of the justice system.

The constitution of Guinea-Bissau seems to be difficult to come across. For example, the recent reference book by M. Steven Fish and Matthew Kroenig, The Handbook of National Legislatures, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009, only provides details from the 1984 constitution. However, the 1996 version is currently available in Portuguese from the website of the National Assembly.

There was a new government at the end of last month, though, as far as I can tell, it was still a single-party PAIGC government. The number of ministers was reduced, though.

Guinea-Bissau – Presidential election 2nd round

The second round of the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau was held on Sunday 26 July.

According to Bissau Digital, the National Election Commission has announced the following result:

Registered electors: 593,765
Voted: 362,736 (61%)

Malan Bacai Sanhá (PAIGC), 224,259 votes (63.31%)
Kumba Ialá (PRS) 129,973 votes (36,69%)

Kumba Ialá has officially accepted defeat. So, with luck, the election may bring about a much-needed period of political stability.