Category Archives: Guinea-Bissau


Guinea-Bissau – Presidential election 1st round

The first round of the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau was held on Sunday 28 June. The election was held following the assassination of President Vieira in March.

The run up to the election was very difficult. At the beginning of June, there was an attempted coup, or at least events were portrayed by the government as such. A number of people, including a former prime minister, Faustino Fudut Embali, a former Defence minister, and a serving minister and presidential candidate, Baciro Dabo, were killed. There was some talk of delaying the poll, but it went ahead as planned and election observer reports suggest that it was held freely and fairly.

I have not been able to obtain the full list of results, but the essentials are available. As expected, Malan Bacai Sanhá, the candidate for the ruling PAIGC party, topped the poll with 39.59%. The other candidate in the second round will be former president, Kumba Ialá, who won 29.42%. These two were also the candidates at the second round of the 2000 presidential election when Ialá won. At that election, Ialá won 38.8% at the first ballot and Sanhá won 23.4%. So, Sanhá is much better placed this time.

The third-placed candidate was the independent, Henrique Pereira Rosa, who won 24.19%. According to reports, he has not pledged his support either candidate at least yet. All of the other candidates were well behind. I have a report that the fourth candidate was Yaia Djaló of the Partido Nova Democracia who won 3.11%. I have no scores for any of the seven other candidates.

The turnout was 60%, which was low by Guinea-Bissau standards.

The second round will take place on either 26 July or, more likely, 2 August.

Guinea-Bissau – Presidential candidates

PANA is reporting that 15 people have registered as candidates for the upcoming presidential election in Guinea-Bissau. The eligibility of the candidatures is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court, which will determine their eligibility.

The election will be held on 28 June and follows the assassination of President Vieira in March.

The candidate for the main party, the PAIGC, is former interim president (after the 1999 coup), Malan Bacai Sanhá. He stood at both the 2000 and 2004 presidential election. In 2004 he was only narrowly defeated by Nino Vieira. This time he is the clear favourite, though he may not win at the first ballot.

The other most well-known candidate is former president Kumba Ialá. He was elected in 2000 against Malan Bacai Sanhá. However, Ialá’s presidency was a disaster. His party, the PRS, did not have a majority and the coalition government broke down after less than a year. The president acted increasingly autocratically and was subject to a coup in 2003. His party performed poorly in the November 2008 legislative election.

Other candidates include the independent, Henrique Pereira Rosa, who was interim president for more than two years from 2003-2005; former prime minister Aristides Gomes, who was close to Nino Vieira (a PAIGC dissident); and another former prime minister, Francisco Fadul.

Guinea-Bissau – Interim president

Raimundo Perreira has assumed the position of interim president of Guinea-Bissau. He was the president of the National Assembly. This is consistent with Art. 71-2 of the Constitution. Bissau Digital reports that President Perreira has promised that he will do his best to ensure that a presidential election will be held within 60 days. This would also be consistent with the Constitution (Art. 71-3).

The funeral of General Tagmé Na Way was held yesterday. The funeral of former President Vieira is due to be held today. They will be buried only a few metres apart.

Guinea-Bissau – President killed

Nino Vieira, president of Guinea-Bissau, has been killed by the armed forces. He was shot early on Monday when his official residence came under attack. It appears as if the attack was in retaliation against the killing of the head of the armed forces, Batista Tagmé Na Way, in a bomb blast the previous day. Jeune afrique reports that an army spokesperson linked the two events.

As I understand it, General Tagmé Na Way was engaged in a process of disarming the so-called ‘aguentas’, a militia who had been loyal to the president since the uprising in 1998 and who had acted as his protection force since the previous assassination attempt against him last November. This event apparently caused the president to lose any confidence in General Tagmé Na Way.

According to Afrique en ligne, the capital, Bissau, was calm on Monday after the attack.

(There is a review of an anthropological study of the ‘aguentas’ by Jónína Einarsdóttir, ‘Navigating Terrains of War: Youth and Soldiering in Guinea Bissau’, in Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute, Volume 78, Number 2, 2008, pp. 319-320).


Guinea-Bissau – New government

In Guinea-Bissau, jeuneafrique is reporting that a new government has finally been formed following the elections last November.

As expected, the prime minister is Carlos Gomes Junior. The government comprises 21 ministers and 10 secretaries of state. Interestingly, all the members of the government are from the PAIGC party. The PAIGC convincingly won the election, but there had been some talk of opening the government up to the opposition. However, jeuneafrique reports that the party’s ruling body voted against such a policy.

The next few months and years promises to create some interesting presidential/prime ministerial dynamics. The president, Nino Vieira, is a PAIGC dissident, and he won the 2005 presidential election against the official PAIGC candidate. Moreover, in November 2005, just a month after taking office, President Vieira sacked Carlos Gomes Junior as prime minister.

It is an academic question as to whether the creation of the new government establishes a period of cohabitation. I define cohabitation as the situation where the president is from one party, where the prime minister is from an opposition party and where the president’s party is not represented in government. In one sense, Guinea-Bissau now meets this definition. All the more so given that the PRID party at the last election was, in effect, President’s Vieira’s election vehicle. However, it polled poorly and the PAIGC won the election. That said, still classes President Vieira as being from the PAIGC. So, on the basis of this source, we do not have a period of cohabitation because the president and PM are still, nominally, from the same party. Also, to my knowledge, President Vieira is not formally a member of the PRID. Any thoughts or clarifications are welcome.

Guinea-Bissau – Cohabitation?

Bissau Digital is reporting that Carlos Gomes Júnior, President of the PAIGC, the party that won a comfortable majority in last month’s elections, is the current prime minister-designate in Guinea-Bissau. Previously, Mr Gomes Júnior served as prime minister from 10 May 2004-2 Nov 2005. He was, in effect, sacked a month after the current president, Nino Vieira, took office in October 2005. President Vieira, a PAIGC dissident, won the 2005 election against the official PAIGC candidate. After he assumed office, the tension with Mr Gomes Júnior was too great and the president soon appointed a loyal supporter Aristides Gomes as his replacement.

Interestingly, from an SP perspective, the same article talks about the impending ‘cohabitation’ between President Nino Vieira and Mr Gomes Júnior. This points to a ‘vulgarisation’ of this specifically semi-presidential term in ordinary political discourse. That said, given President Vieira is an ex-PAIGC member and that his supporters may well be found in a future cabinet, then, according to the use of term in this blog, it is possible that, as things stand, there will not be a period of cohabitation. (In other words, there are likely to be presidential supporters in the cabinet coalition).

In a separate development, jeuneafrique reports that the presumed mastermind of the apparent assassination attempt on President Vieira life, Alexandre Tchama Yala, has been arrested by Senegalese police, though the details are still sketchy.

Guinea-Bissau – More on the attempted ‘coup’

Yesterday, I reported the attack on President João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira’s residence in Guinea-Bissau. The situation is starting to be understood a little better. reports that during the attack machine gun fire was heard. Also, while the attack was happening, President Vieira rang President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal informing of the situation. President Wade informed the OAU and ECOWAS. He also ordered the rebel forces to return to barracks.

In the end, the mutiny, or coup, or attack ended without any major disruption. However, there may be a political twist. According to, the presumed leader of the attack was Alexandre Tchama Yala. He is currently being sought for his alleged part in the plot. He is also the nephew of former president Kumba Yalá (now Mohamed Ialá Embaló). Kumba Yalá has been highly critical of the result of the previous Sunday’s election where his party, the PRS, failed to make a breakthrough. Previously, he, too, had been deposed as president in a coup.

Party politics in Guinea-Bissau has become increasingly divided on ethnic lines in recent years and this may be part of the background to the current political instability in the country. Also, the international drug trade is increasingly using Guinea-Bissau as a base and, again, this element is clearly complicating matters.

Guinea-Bissau – Election result

In Guinea-Bissau parliamentary elections took place on Sunday 16 November. The first results have just been made available. They show a turnout of 82% and a comfortable majority for the PAIGC.

Reporting the Comissão Nacional de Eleições, Bissau Digital notes that the PAIGC has 67 seats, the PRS of former president Kumba Yalá (now Mohamed Ialá Embaló) won 28 seats, the PRID of former prime minister and close presidential ally Aristides Gomes won 3 seats, while the AD and PND parties will win one seat each.

The number of votes for all the parties is provided at Wikipedia has picked up these results and turned them into percentages, but currently there are mistakes, particularly in the date of the election and the number of seats awarded to the PRS.

The president, João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, will be in a tricky position. He was expelled from the PAIGC in 1999 and won the 2005 presidential election standing as an independent against the PAIGC candidate. He has had difficulty governing since then. In August he appointed Carlos Correia from the PAIGC as prime minister. The PRID party was, in effect, a vehicle for the president at the legislative election, but it has failed to make a breakthrough. However, the president has also managed to win support from dissidents within the PAIGC.

Given Vieira is an independent, I do not class Guinea-Bissau as a case of cohabitation, but it is clear that most of the government is not to the president’s liking. The results may perhaps pave the way for the president’s formal reconciliation with the PAIGC, though he may think that he will remain enough personal popularity to allow him to maintain his position as an independent and stand a chance of being re-elected. Alternatively, he may try to split the PAIGC and win party support that way, but this strategy is likely to be more difficult now after the PAIGC’s big victory.

In any case, it is likely that even if the prime minister remains in place, which would be logical as he is from the PAIGC, the governing coalition may change. In August it comprised the PAIGC, some Vieira supporters from the PAIGC, five ministers from the PRS and one each from PRID and APU.

All international observers seemed very pleased with the electoral process. There were favourable reports from the Missão de Observação Eleitoral Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa.
The EU was also satisfied with the election.

There was some post-election drama. The president’s house was attacked by members of the armed forces allegedly. However, the armed forces have since stated their loyalty to the president. (See Bissau Digital).

Guinea-Bissau – Constitution

In Guinea-Bissau parliamentary elections took place on Sunday. The voting seems to have been peaceful and the turnout quite high. I will post the results when they are in.

In the meantime, here is a link to the EU’s Guinea-Bissau electoral observance page. It is in Portuguese, but, even for those of us who aren’t entirely fluent(!), it is quite useful. Specifically, it has a full copy of the 1996 constitution, which is very difficult to get online. (Technically, it is the 1996 amended version of the 1984 constitution). Again, the text is in Portuguese, but it might be helpful to have it for reference. On Confinder the text in French is the original 1984 constitution, while the text in English is incomplete.

Guinea-Bissau – Parliament dissolved

Just before going on vacation I posted on what seemed like an impending crisis in Guinea-Bissau. I have just caught up with events there and things have moved on.

Recall that Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi had come to power in April 2007 on the basis of a agreement between three parties, the PAIGC with 45/100 seats in the Assembly, the PRS and the PUSD. In late July 2008 the PAIGC withdrew from the government and went into opposition, making it almost impossible for the government to survive.

In that context, on 5 August President Joao Bernardo Vieira dissolved the Assembly. Parliamentary elections were already scheduled to be held on 16 November. I have seen nothing to indicate that they will not be held or that they will be held either earlier or later.

On the same day as the dissolution President Vieira appointed Carlos Correia as prime minister. Prime Minister Correia had held the post previously from 1991-94 and then from June 1997 to December 1998. He is a member of the PAIGC. The members of the new government were named on 10 August.

On 6 August President Vieira hinted that there had been the threat of a coup. On the same day the head of the navy, Admiral Américo Bubo Na Tchuto, was sacked and went into hiding in Gambia, despite being supposedly under guard by members of the military. He has since denied organising a coup plot. More recently, President Vieira has stated that a political leader was behind the plot, but declined to name him.

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has helped to restore some authority in the country by sending a delegation that met with the various parties, including members of the military.