Ahead of 24 Nov presidential election, tensions mounted as President Vaz dissolved govt and tried to replace PM Gomes raising risk of protests and violent repression by security forces in coming weeks. Supreme Court 16 Oct approved twelve of nineteen would-be presidential candidates, including incumbent President Vaz and representatives of main political parties. Parliament 15 Oct approved PM Gomes’s program by narrow margin, but vote divided ruling coalition: notably Nuno Gomes Nabiam, presidential candidate and leader of Assembly of the People United (APU), voted against program. Tension rose over updating of electoral rolls. Nabiam 14 Oct said ruling party African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) used money earmarked for updating electoral rolls to finance its activities. Mission including representatives of African Union (AU), UN and regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) visited capital Bissau 7 Oct, insisted on adherence to electoral schedule and said that previous rolls should be used in absence of agreement on revisions. PM Gomes 22 Oct said his former ally and opposition leader Umaru Sissoco Embalo, also presidential candidate, was preparing coup; recording of conversation between Sissoco and unidentified man about fomenting trouble circulated on social networks. Sissoco denied accusations. Police 26 Oct cracked down on opposition protest in Bissau calling for revision of electoral rolls and delay of presidential election, one person reportedly killed. President Vaz 28 Oct dissolved govt saying political situation was undermining normal functioning of state institutions and 29 Oct named Faustino Fudut Imbali (PM from 2000 to 2003) as PM, but incumbent PM Gomes refused to step down. ECOWAS same day rejected Vaz’s decision and insisted Gomes was still PM; UN, AU and Angola supported ECOWAS position.
A legitimate civilian government, economic improvement and an army that has lost credibility are an opportunity for Guinea-Bissau. Regional and international partners meeting in Brussels on 25 March should commit to finance security sector reform to help the small state move beyond its history of military coups.
Guinea-Bissau’s elections are an important first step, but to address its economic and political fragility, the country needs strong international help, as well as political and military will for reform.
International actors need to commit to a common strategy to help coup-plagued Guinea-Bissau implement the security, justice and electoral reforms it needs to escape its status as a link in drug trafficking to Europe.
The ability of the Bissau-Guinean authorities to withstand the 26 December 2011 coup attempt bears witness to the improvements since the previous military turmoil of 1 April 2010, but crucial political, military and judicial developments still lie ahead as the country prepares for presidential elections in March and parliamentary polls later this year.
The killing of at least 160 participants in a peaceful demonstration, the rape of many women protestors, and the arrest of political leaders by security forces in Conakry on 28 September 2009 showed starkly the dangers that continued military rule poses to Guinea’s stability and to a region where three fragile countries are only just recovering from civil wars.
The assassinations of the chief of defence staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai, on 1 March 2009 and President Joao Bernardo Nino Vieira early the next day have plunged Guinea-Bissau into deep uncertainty. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was quickly sworn in as interim president pending the election the constitution requires.
On 12 April 2012 a military uprising ousted former prime minister Carlos Gomes Júnior just as he was about to compete in a run-off presidential election that he was poised to win. Gabriela Keseberg Dávalos, Crisis Group's Senior Communications Officer, and Vincent Foucher, West Africa Senior Analyst, were in Bissau to examine the current situation in the country, the reasons for the overthrow and the priorities of the new transitional government.
On 12 April 2012, a military uprising ousted former prime minister Carlos Gomes Júnior just as he was about to compete in a run-off presidential election that he was poised to win. Crisis Group's Gabriela Keseberg Dávalos, Senior Communications Officer, and Vincent Foucher, West Africa Senior Analyst, were in Bissau to examine the current situation in the country.