In 24 Nov presidential election, former PMs Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Sissoco Embaló came first and second with 40% and 28% of votes respectively and will contest second round planned for 29 Dec; tensions and violence could rise in coming weeks. Incumbent President Vaz came fourth with 12%, 28 Nov conceded defeat. Vaz’s campaign team accused rivals of buying votes and stuffing ballot boxes; electoral authority 25 Nov denied claims, said vote was transparent. Minor clashes involving party supporters or police broke out in several places including Bissorã in north, Canchungo in north west and Empada in south west, and in neighbourhoods of capital Bissau. After Vaz late Oct dismissed govt and replaced PM Gomes, African Union’s Peace and Security Council 7 Nov deemed removal of Gomes “illegal”. Heads of state from regional bloc Economic Community of West African States at extraordinary summit in Niger 8 Nov said decision violated country’s constitution and threatened to apply sanctions if govt of Vaz-appointed PM Imbali did not resign. Imbali resigned same day and Gomes resumed his functions.
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.