Category Archives: Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau 2009

I briefly posted some stuff on the Guinea-Bissau presidential elections last week or so, covering mostly the first round of the ‘special’ presidential elections held in the small West African country of Guinea-Bissau. Former Acting President (1999-2000) Malam Bacai Sanhá of the left-wing African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was elected President over Kumba Ialá of the opposition centre-left Party for Social Renewal (PRS). Sanhá had received the support of most small candidates, though the main kingmaker was the Independent Henrique Rosa (24%) did not make an endorsement. In addition, former President Ialá is often held responsible for the dire state of the poor country’s economy – dependent on cashew nuts (and it also serves as a hub for drug trafficking).

Malam Bacai Sanhá (PAIGC) 63.52%
Kumba Ialá (PRS) 36.48%

Turnout was around 61% out of the 600,000 registered voters.

In a good sign for a country prone to military coups and disturbances following fake elections (this election, however, was not faked), Ialá conceded defeat and President-elect Sanhá claimed that he was willing to work with his rival, and also granted Ialá (former President) personal security, a protocol service and private transport. And since that’s probably all he cares about, Ialá was happy to accept this little gift.

Series of African elections

A few recent African elections, mostly under the radar in the Western media.

Firstly, in the Republic of Congo. Unsurprisingly, incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT), the left-wing dictatorship party, won another 7 year term. Sassou Nguesso first came to power in 1979 as a member of the ruling military/Marxist junta led by the PCT, but he was defeated in free elections in 1992 by an opposition candidate (although he received Sassou Nguesso’s endorsement in the runoff, from which Sassou Nguesso was absent) – Pascal Lissouba. The PCT soon ditched Lissouba after he didn’t give them enough cabinet positions and, in typical African style, went into civil war which culiminated in Sassou Nguesso’s return in 1997. He was re-elected with 89.4% in 2002.

He faced twelve candidates this year, but the divided opposition’s official candidate, Mathias Dzon called to boycott the election. Sassou Nguesso won 78.6%, and his closest ‘rival’ was an opposition dissident, Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mboungou, who won 7.5%.

In Mauritania, an election was held after a military coup in 2008 overthrew the beginnings of a democratic regime. The coup leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, stood for election and he has won around 53% by the first round.

Guinea-Bissau is probably the only of these elections which isn’t a fake election. These elections, with the first round last month (June 28) and the runoff on July 26, are special elections being held after President João Bernardo Vieira was assassinated on March 2.

The runoff opposes Malam Bacai Sanhá of the (governing) socialist/Marxist African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and the leader of the opposition centre-left Social Renewal Party (PRS), Kumba Ialá. Henrique Rosa, an Independent and former interim President, was eliminated in the first round but his votes will prove decisive. In the first round, Sanhá received 39.59%, Ialá 29.42%  and Rosa received 24.19%.

João Vieira led a military coup in 1980 which overthrew the PAIGC-Cabral family business, the ruling party since independence. Vieira ruled until 1999, when civil war erupted. Kumba Ialá was elected President in 2000 and, despite good intentions, was fairly incompetent in office. The military staged a coup in 2003 and elections were held in 2005. JoãoVieira was elected as an Independent in 2005. He received 28.87% in the first round – behind Sanhá (35.45%) but won due to the Ialá voters (25% in the first round) backing him in the runoff, which he won with 52.35%.