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

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs