Politics of Guinea-Bissau

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politics and government of

Politics of Guinea-Bissau takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential representative democratic republic in transition, whereby the President is head of state and the Prime Minister is head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National People's Assembly.

Since 1994 the party system has been dominated by the socialist African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde and the Party for Social Renewal. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Despite the democratic, constitutional framework, the military has exercised substantial power and interfered repeatedly in civilian leadership since multi-party elections were instituted in 1994. In the past 16 years, Guinea Bissau has experienced two coups, a civil war, an attempted coup, and a presidential assassination by the military. Since the country's independence in 1974, no president has successfully served a full five-year term.[1]

Political developments

The old President palace in the capital Bissau. The war damaged building was abandoned after the 1998-1999 civil war.

In Guinea-Bissau in 1989, the ruling African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) under the direction of President João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira began to outline a political liberalization program which the People's National Assembly approved in 1991. Reforms that paved the way for multi-party democracy included the repeal of articles of the constitution, which had enshrined the leading role of the PAIGC. Laws were ratified to allow the formation of other political parties, a free press, and independent trade unions with the right to strike.

Guinea-Bissau's first multi-party elections for president and parliament were held in 1994. Following the 1998-99 civil war, presidential and legislative elections were again held, bringing opposition leader Kumba Ialá and his Party for Social Renewal to power. Ialá was ousted in a bloodless coup in September 2003 and Henrique Rosa was sworn in as President.

Former President Viera was once again elected as President in July 2005. The government of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior was elected in March 2004 in a free and fair election round, but was replaced by the government of Prime Minister Aristides Gomes which took office already in November 2005. Aristides Gomes lost a no-confidence vote and submitted his resignation in March 2007.

Martinho Ndafa Kabi was proposed as prime minister by a coalition composed of the PAIGC, the Social Renewal Party (PRS), and the United Social Democratic Party (PUSD). On April 9, it was announced that President João Bernardo Vieira had rejected the choice of Kabi, but the coalition said that they maintained him as their choice and later on the same day, Vieira appointed Kabi as the new prime minister. He took office on April 13, and his government, composed of 20 ministers (including eight from the PAIGC, eight from the PRS, and two from the PUSD) was named on April 17.

2009 assassination

President Viera was reported killed on March 2, 2009 by soldiers as retaliation for the killing of the head of the joint chiefs of staff, General Tagme Na Waie, who was killed the previous day.

2010 military unrest

Prior to the 2008 election, a decision to change the electoral date and extend the parliamentary mandate resulted in major controversy when the Assembly deputies snubbed the president and chose to extend their mandate. After the Supreme Court annulled that law, President Vieira dissolved the Assembly, thus allowing the standing committee to continue working, and appointed a new government composed of loyalists.

Rear Admiral Bubo Na Tchuto tried to organize a coup on August 7, 2008, but was pre-empted and arrested; however, he managed to escape the country. The attempted coup added to instability ahead of parliamentary elections. Gambia subsequently arrested Bubo Na Tchuto.[2] He later returned to Guinea-Bissau disguised as a fisherman and took refuge at a UN compound. Although the UN agreed to surrender him to the government, he continued to reside in the compound. As a result of his return security in the country was tightened, contributing to uncertainty and instability.

On April 1, 2010, soldiers entered UN offices and left with Bubo Na Tchuto. The same day, soldiers entered Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior's residence and held him on the premises. Simultaneously, forty military officers, including Zamora Induta, head of Guinea-Bissau's armed forces, were being held at an army base. Hundreds of the PM's supporters demanded his release. In response, the deputy army chief, Antonio Ndjai, said: "If the people continue to go out into the streets to show their support for Carlos Gomes Junior, then I will kill Carlos Gomes Junior ... or I will send someone to kill him."[3][4]

The following day the PM was taken to meet with the president where he said: "I will not resign because I was democratically elected. I consider what happened on Thursday as an incident. The situation is now stable. I can assure you that institutions will return to their normal functions." The UN secretary general and other international powers condemned the move, while government ministers issued a statement saying "Members of government expressed their support and their attachment to the prime minister and firmly condemned the use of force as a means to resolve problems." Tensions seemingly calmed with President Sanha saying the coup attempt was "a confusion between soldiers that reached the government;" and the UN Secretary General spoke about the PM's "detention and subsequent release."[5] Nevertheless, while the members of the cabinet and the international community condemned the attempted coup and talked about the PM's release, reports still indicated that "renegade soldiers" had the PM "under guard."[6]

2011 attempted coup

After Army chief of staff General Antonio Indjai was reported to have been arrested under the orders of navy chief Rear Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, his troops freed him while Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior went to seek asylum at the Angolan embassy. Indjai then said that his naval counterpart had been arrested. The events occurred while President Malam Bacai Sanha had been in Paris, France for medical care.[7][8][9]

2012 coup

On 12 April 2012 the military took over the central district of the capital.[10] On 16 April, military leaders and a coalition of political parties announced the formation of a Transitional National Council,[11] under international pressure.

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President José Mário Vaz African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 23 June 2014
Prime Minister Baciro Djá African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde 27 May 2016

The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The prime minister is appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature.

Legislative branch

The National People's Assembly (Assembleia Nacional Popular) has 102 members, elected for a four-year term in multi-member constituencies.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Guinea-Bissau. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Guinea-Bissau.
 Summary of the 19 June and 24 July 2005 Guinea-Bissau presidential election results
Candidates - Nominating parties Votes
1st round
1st round
2nd round
2nd round
Malam Bacai Sanhá - African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde 158,276 35.45% 196,759 47.65%
João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira - Independent 128,918 28.87% 216,167 52.35%
Mohamed Ialá Embaló - Party for Social Renewal 111,606 25.00% - -
Francisco Fadul - United Social Democratic Party 12,733 2.85% - -
Aregado Mantenque Té - Workers' Party 9,000 2.02% - -
Mamadú Iaia Djaló - Independent 7,112 1.59% - -
Mário Lopes da Rosa - Independent 4,863 1.09% - -
Idrissa Djaló - National Unity Party 3,604 0.81% - -
Adelino Mano Queta - Independent 2,816 0.63% - -
Faustino Fadut Imbali - Manifest Party of the People 2,330 0.52% - -
Paulino Empossa Ié - Independent 2,215 0.50% - -
Antonieta Rosa Gomes - Guinean Civic Forum-Social Democracy 1,642 0.37% - -
João Tátis Sá - Guinean People's Party 1,378 0.31% - -
Total (turnout 87.6% / 78.6%) 446,493 412,926
 Summary of the 28 March 2004 National People's Assembly of Guinea-Bissau election results
Parties Votes % Seats
African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência de Guiné e Cabo Verde) 145,316 33.88 45
Party for Social Renewal (Partido para a Renovaçao Social) 113,656 26.50 35
United Social Democratic Party (Partido Unido Social Democrático) 75,485 17.60 17
United Platform (Plataforma Unida) 20,700 4.83 -
Electoral Union (União Eleitoral) 18,354 4.28 2
Democratic Socialist Party (Partido Democrático Socialista) 8,789 2.05 -
Union for Change (União para a Mudança) 8,621 2.01 -
Resistance of Guinea-Bissau-Bafatá Movement (Resistência da Guiné-Bissau-Movimento Bafatá) 7,918 1.85 -
National Unity Party (Partido da Unidade Nacional) 6,260 1.46 -
United People's Alliance (Aliança Popular Unida) 5,817 1.36 1
National Union for Democracy and Progress (União Nacional para a Democracia e o Progresso) 5,042 1.18 -
Guinean Civic Forum-Social Democracy (Fórum Cívico Guineense-Social Democracia) 4,209 0.98 -
Guinean Democratic Movement (Movimento Democrático Guineense) 4,202 0.98 -
Manifest Party of the People (Partido do Manifesto do Povo) 3,402 0.79 -
Socialist Party of Guinea-Bissau (Partido Socialista da Guiné-Bissau) 1,167 0.27 -
Total (turnout 76.2%) 428,937 100.00 100
Registered voters 603,639
Total votes cast 460,254
Invalid votes 31,317
Source: African Elections Database

Judicial branch

The Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal da Justiça), consists of nine justices who are appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure, final court of appeals in criminal and civil case. There are Regional Courts, one in each of nine regions, first court of appeals for sectoral court decisions, hear all felony cases and civil cases valued at over $1,000 and 24 Sectoral Courts, judges are not necessarily trained lawyers, hear civil cases under $1,000 and misdemeanor criminal cases.

Administrative divisions

Guinea-Bissau is divided in 9 regions (regioes, singular - regiao); Bafata, Biombo, Bissau, Bolama, Cacheu, Gabu, Oio, Quinara, Tombali.
note: Bolama may have been renamed Bolama/Bijagos

International organization participation



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