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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs