News

Tense Guinea-Bissau Awaits Election Results

Boys watch electoral officials count votes through a window in Guinea's capital Bissau, March 18, 2012.
Boys watch electoral officials count votes through a window in Guinea's capital Bissau, March 18, 2012.
Anne Look

Vote-counting is under way in Guinea-Bissau following Sunday's presidential poll. The late-night assassination of a key military figure cast a shadow over an otherwise calm day of voting, and highlights the risk of further instability in the coup-prone West Africa country.

Guinea-Bissau's former military intelligence chief, Colonel Samba Diallo, was shot dead at a bar in the capital Sunday night following the country's presidential election.  

Sources in Bissau told VOA that the assailants appeared to be renegade soldiers, but the army says it has no information on the incident.

Military coups, army mutinies and assassinations are commonplace in Guinea-Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau Elections

  • Guinea-Bissau wins independence from Portugal in 1974.
  • Luis Cabral becomes president in 1974 and is ousted in a 1980 coup led by armed forces chief Joao Bernardo Vieira.
  • Vieira clings to power despite alleged coup attempts and is elected president in 1994 multi-party polls.
  • Guinea-Bissau plunges into a bloody civil war in 1998 after an army uprising.
  • Military junta ousts Vieira in 1999; opposition leader Kumba Yala is elected president in 2000.
  • President Yala is ousted in bloody military coup in 2003; Businessman Henrique Rosa is sworn in as president.
  • Joao Bernardo Vieira wins 2005 presidential vote and is killed by soldiers in the presidential palace in 2009.
  • Malam Bacai Sanha is elected president and while hospitalized in 2011 a military struggle and attempted coup take place.
  • President Sanha dies in January 2012 after a long illness; National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira becomes acting president.

Political and military leaders have long wrestled for dominance of the tiny coastal nation and, according to analysts, profit from the thousands of kilograms of cocaine trafficked through its Atlantic coastline each week.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of its inhabitants live in poverty. Corruption runs rampant. No elected president has finished his mandate since 1994.

Sunday's murder was a troubling sign, following an election many hoped would mark a fresh start.

Voter Senguda Fonseca says the women of this country are tired. She says we cannot afford to send our children to school. She says our relatives die in misery. She says they need someone who can guide Guinea-Bissau forward.

In April 2010, Colonel Diallo was arrested by mutinous soldiers and detained for nine months. Then-prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior was also briefly detained. He is now a presidential frontrunner pledging to reform the economy and end drug-trafficking.

Casting his ballot at an open-air polling station in Bissau Sunday, Gomes said he was feeling calm and confident that the elections would go smoothly. He said his priority will be to serve the country.

Still, Gomes had ties to Colonel Diallo. Sources in Bissau worry that Sunday's killing could be a warning for the candidate.

Vincent Foucher, a Guinea-Bissau analyst for the International Crisis Group, says there have been rumors that a victory by Gomes would spark unrest or a military takeover. However, he says that Colonel Diallo had enemies, and it is still unclear what, if any, connection his murder had with the election.

Guinea-Bissau is voting to replace former president Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January following a prolonged illness. Sanha had been elected only two years earlier after his predecessor, long-time president Joao Vieira, was assassinated by renegade solders seeking revenge for the killing of the chief of the armed forces just hours earlier.

Nine candidates are running for the presidency. Gomes' key challenger is former president Kumba Yala, who was overthrown by a coup in 2003. He has strong ties to the military and placed second in the 2009 poll.

Results are expected within one week. If no candidate wins a clear majority, the vote will go to a second round run-off next month.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs