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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More