President Embaló tightened his grip on power despite mounting international pressure to reach compromise with opposition. UN Security Council 1 July expressed concern over “ongoing political and institutional crisis” and called on Embaló to compromise with African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cap Verde (PAIGC), winner of 2019 legislative elections, to form govt “in full compliance with the provisions of the Constitution”. PAIGC contested legality of parliament’s late June approval of Nuno Gomes Nabiam as PM. PAIGC parliamentary group leader Califa Seidi 1 July said vote was “null and void”, citing procedural flaws; PAIGC leader Domingos Simões Pereira 5 July accused security forces of coercing five PAIGC MPs into voting for Nabiam. Meanwhile, Embaló 3 July reinstated five ministers he had dismissed in June to secure parliamentary majority. Embaló 7 July announced forthcoming referendum to change constitution, and said authorities would start tracking citizens’ communications within next ten days, citing need to “provide security and tranquillity to the citizens” by monitoring “insults under the guise of anonymity in the media or social networks”; several jurists immediately criticised “violation of constitution”. Group of “armed men in uniform” 26 July reportedly vandalised broadcasting equipment of independent Rádio Capital FM in capital Bissau; PAIGC same day accused authorities of staging attack; govt denied accusations. High Commissioner in charge of COVID-19 response 6 July said official figures on cases and deaths were “not even close to reality”, citing country’s low screening capacities. Embaló 25 July extended coronavirus state of emergency until 24 Aug but announced lifting of international travel restrictions.
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.