News / Africa

Guinea-Bissau Holds First Post-Coup Election

Anne Look
Guinea-Bissau goes to the polls Sunday for a much-awaited presidential and parliamentary election.  The country is trying to move on from two years of uncertainty that followed an April 2012 military coup.  Political analysts say this election marks the arrival of a new generation of politicians, something they say bodes well for a fresh start after decades of instability.

Bissau-Guineans vote Sunday for a new president and a new parliament.  Both will have a role in appointing the new prime minister.

It has been almost two years since Guinea Bissau tried to hold an election.  In April 2012, a military coup disrupted that presidential poll as it headed to a run-off.

There are 13 presidential candidates this time and no clear frontrunner.  Analysts say they expect it to go to a second round. There are several first-time or independent candidates.

The two prominent political figures that were headed to the presidential run-off back in 2012 are not running this time.  Both men were controversial when it came to the country's tumultuous political-military relations.​

Guinea Bissau analyst Elisabete Azevedo-Harman of London-based Chatham House:

"It's really interesting that you come up for these elections with the two main parties for the first time with a different generation leading for the election.  That makes the parties weaker.  Yes, it's true that they don't have the charisma of previous candidates that are well known by the population but maybe it's a good sign for the need to have the short-term balance between the military and the politics," said Azevedo-Harman.

Former president Kumba Yala died earlier this month.  He had already resigned from his party, the PIS, and was backing an independent who had also emerged from the PIS, Nuno Gomes Nabian.

Former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior had been expected to win the 2012 run-off but was instead forced into exile after the coup.  He remains in Portugal.

His party, the PAIGC, the largest party in the country, changed leadership at its last party congress.  The PAIGC put Jose Mario Vaz on the ticket for this election.  Vaz is a former finance minister who also served as mayor of the capital, Bissau.

The sad state of the country's economy has figured prominently in this campaign.

Vaz has told voters that it is time to stop with all the political intrigue and get down to work.  He has pledged to work in cooperation with the new government to revitalize the cashew nut and rice sectors.  He says it is ridiculous for the country to be importing so much rice, approximately 80,000 tons per year, at such high costs.

Another technocrat whom political analysts are watching in this election is independent candidate, Paolo Gomes.  Gomes is a Harvard-educated, former World Bank executive.

Gomes told voters that without stability the country will not be able to attract investment.  Wealth, he says, will come with stability.  He says they need jobs for young people.  He says many young people finish their studies or training but there are no jobs so they remain dependent on their parents.  He says this is "unacceptable."

Guinea-Bissau is one of Africa's smallest, yet most unstable, countries. There have been repeated coups, mutinies and political assassinations since independence 40 years ago.  No elected president has ever finished his mandate.

Analysts warn that the military remains a destabilizing force.  

Lassana Cassama reported from Bissau.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs