Guinea-Bissau legislative election, 2008
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
A parliamentary election was held on 16 November 2008 in Guinea-Bissau. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won a majority of 67 out of 100 seats, while the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) won 28 seats.
The head of the National Electoral Commission (CNE), El Hadj Malam Mané, said on December 8, 2007 that the election would be held between October 23 and November 25, 2008. On December 5, 2007, President João Bernardo Vieira met with 35 party leaders, and 33 of them agreed to the CNE's date range; two parties, the National Unity Party and the Party for Democracy, Development and Citizenship (PADEC), disagreed, wanting the election to be held in March or April 2008.
At a rally in Gabu on July 17, 2007, President Vieira said that the election would be held together with the next presidential election in 2009 in order to save money, but the National People's Assembly did not agree to this.
In a speech before the National People's Assembly on 24 March 2008, Vieira sharply criticized Prime Minister Martinho Ndafa Kabi's government for not adequately preparing for the election, saying that "the government did not create the conditions to facilitate the holding of the legislative elections within the times required by the Constitution". He also noted that the Assembly's mandate would expire on 21 April 2008, four years after the previous election, and that afterwards the Assembly's work have to be handled solely by its Standing Committee. On 25 March, after consultations with political party representatives, civil society, the CNE, and foreign diplomats, Vieira decided on 16 November 2008 as the date of the election.
On 27 March, the Assembly voted to extend its mandate to November; of the 67 deputies present, 65 deputies voted in favor of the extension and two opposed it. The extension was viewed by many as a challenge to Vieira, since he had said that the Assembly's work would be handled solely by its Standing Committee after 21 April, and it provoked significant opposition. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) opposed the extension, while the Social Renewal Party (PRS) and the United Social Democratic Party (PUSD) supported it. A group of 20 deputies who opposed the extension said on April 15 that the extension was a violation of the Constitution and that they would not participate in any parliamentary sessions after April 21; meanwhile, the Council of State asked the Assembly to reverse the extension. However, the Assembly voted to uphold the extension on 16 April, with 68 deputies in favor, seven opposed, and seven abstaining.
A meeting intended to assess the political situation was held on April 18 between Vieira, the government, the Assembly, and the Council of State. Subsequently, civil society organizations called for the resignation of Prime Minister Kabi, accusing him of making death threats against Fernando Gomis, a member of the Assembly, at this meeting. The organizations said that Kabi was unable to control his anger and as a result it was not appropriate for him to lead the government. Additionally, the organizations called on Vieira to not promulgate the extension of the parliamentary mandate, and they threatened to launch protests if Vieira did not dismiss Kabi's government and dissolve the Assembly.
On May 19, Vieira said that he had enacted the law providing for the extension of the parliamentary mandate. While remarking that those opposed to the extension were correct, he said that it was nevertheless necessary to approve it for the sake of peace and stability.
On April 1, speaking to representatives of international organizations and diplomats, Prime Minister Kabi called on the international community to assist in raising the 3.7 billion CFA francs required for the election's budget. He said that the Portuguese government had agreed to supply the necessary electoral material. Three months later, Cristian Nabitan, the Secretary of State for Administrative Reform, announced the approval of a large shipment of electoral materials from Portugal, including ballots, ballot boxes, voting booths, and indelible ink, on July 1; he said that this shipment represented 75% of the materials Guinea-Bissau needed for the election and that another shipment would arrive in Bissau on the next day. The materials were valued at about 41 million CFA francs. The Portuguese government also said that it would send electoral observers if asked to do so.
An electoral census began on 3 July 2008, scheduled to end on 23 July. In the early part of the registration period, the number of citizens registering was reportedly low, although Minister of the Interior Certório Biote said on July 9 that the process was going well. PRS President Kumba Ialá returned to Bissau from Morocco on July 7, 2008 to register for the election. On this occasion, he predicted that the PRS would win the election with a majority of seats, and he called on every citizen "from 16 to 120 years old" to vote. In a speech to the nation a few days before the scheduled end of registration, Vieira also urged all citizens of voting age to register, and he said that the period could be extended to enable more people to register. It was subsequently announced on July 22 that the registration period would be extended to July 26 due to financial and logistical difficulties.
After Kabi dismissed the directors of customs, taxes and the treasury on July 25, 2008 without notifying PAIGC in advance, PAIGC decided to withdraw from the stability pact that was signed by PAIGC, the PRS, and the PUSD in March 2007. There were concerns that PAIGC's decision could cause instability that might negatively affect the election.
On August 1, the Supreme Court annulled the law extending the deputies' terms until the election. After consultations with the political class, civil society, and the Council of State, Vieira dissolved the National People's Assembly on August 5, leaving only its Standing Committee in place. He also appointed Carlos Correia—who was previously Prime Minister under Vieira from 1991 to 1994 and from 1997 to 1998—as Prime Minister on the same day, replacing Kabi. A new government headed by Correia was appointed on August 9. This government was dominated by Vieira loyalists and members of PAIGC, including PAIGC dissidents who were supporters of Vieira. The appointment of one of these PAIGC dissidents—Cipriano Cassamá—as Minister of the Interior was deemed especially significant, due to the Interior Ministry's responsibility for the election. The PRS was given five posts in the government, while the Republican Party for Independence and Development (PRID) and the United People's Alliance (APU) were each given a single post.
Shortly after Correia's appointment, a coup plot allegedly led by the head of the navy, Rear Admiral Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, was said to have been thwarted. According to an army spokesman, Na Tchuto asked other senior officers to support his plot, which was planned to occur on August 7, but when he asked the chief of staff of the army to join the plot, the latter ordered Na Tchuto's arrest. Na Tchuto was placed under house arrest, but he escaped and fled to The Gambia, where he was arrested by the Gambian authorities on August 12.
On August 11, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement saying that he was "deeply concerned over the mounting political and security tensions in Guinea-Bissau" and calling "on all national stakeholders to work cooperatively and peacefully together in the national interest and in full respect of the rule of law".
An African Union pre-election assessment mission, led by Anil Gayan of Mauritius, arrived in Bissau on August 18; the mission was intended to determine whether the appropriate conditions for holding the election existed. Members of the mission met with Prime Minister Correia on August 21, and Correia affirmed the government's intention to hold the election on schedule in November.
By law, candidate lists must be submitted at least 60 days before the election is held. As the available period entered its final week, Supreme Court President Maria do Ceu Silva Monteiro expressed concern on September 10 that none of the parties had submitted their lists to the National Electoral Commission or the Supreme Court, although 17 parties had stated their intention to participate in the election. 21 parties and coalitions submitted candidate lists by the end of the week and were approved by the Supreme Court. Lists submitted by 12 other parties were rejected because they were submitted an hour too late. The approved lists included two coalitions, the Democratic Alliance and the Alliance of Patriotic Forces, as well as two new parties, PRID (led by former Prime Minister Aristides Gomes) and PADEC (led by former Prime Minister Francisco Fadul).
A European Union pre-election evaluation mission was sent to Guinea-Bissau, and on September 18, Prime Minister Correia held discussions with the mission about electoral preparations. The mission was led by Harro Adt, the Special Envoy of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the Mano River Basin, who expressed optimism regarding Guinea-Bissau's political situation.
After the National Election Registration Commission published the lists of registered voters, some citizens who had registered complained that they were not included on the lists. There were reportedly many errors in the lists, and the Interior Ministry promised to rectify the situation so that the final lists published by the CNE would be accurate.
In late September, PRS Vice-President Ibrahima Sori Djalo alleged that President Vieira and Prime Minister Correia were planning to delay the election until 2009, possibly using an epidemic of cholera as a pretext. He also claimed that there were plans to rig the election in favor of PAIGC.
The CNE published the final list of 575 candidates on October 21. The electoral campaign period, scheduled to last 20 days, began a few days later. In an interview with the African Press Agency on October 24, CNE President Mané urged the candidates to "refrain from any form of electoral corruption or acts that may threaten national security or social order and unity". He said that candidates could face disqualification and legal action if they failed to heed the warning.
As part of its campaign, PAIGC said that it had a good relationship with President Vieira, and it used images of Vieira and PAIGC President Carlos Gomes Junior together a few months earlier, raising their arms in a celebratory gesture, to illustrate this point. Vieira was reportedly unhappy about this use of his image in PAIGC's campaign.
Drug trafficking, which is a major problem in Guinea-Bissau, has been a key issue in the election campaign, as parties have accused each other of involvement in the drug trade and taking money from cartels in order to finance their campaigns. According to observers, the state's ability to crack down on the drug trade is very limited, and some have described Guinea-Bissau as a narco-state. Gomes Junior said at a PAIGC rally on October 29 that "only blind people cannot see that certain parties are financed with drug money". PRID President Aristides Gomes pointed to a seizure of cocaine made in September 2006, during his tenure as Prime Minister, in order to bolster his party's image with respect to the drug trade; that cocaine seizure was marred, however, by the subsequent disappearance of the cocaine. PRS President Kumba Yala accused Vieira of trafficking drugs, describing him as the foremost drug trafficker in Guinea-Bissau. Vieira did not reply to Yala's claim.
On November 15, Johan van Hecke, the head of the European Union's observer mission, praised the CNE for its "remarkable work" and expressed his view that the country was "ready for the elections". He was, however, critical of the government's unwillingness to let the CNE have financial independence, and he also stated that it was "not exactly clear" whether appeals regarding the election's results should go to the CNE or the Supreme Court.
Election day, release of results, and subsequent events
On election day, November 16, polling stations opened at 7:00 in the morning and were scheduled to close at 5:00 in the afternoon. Johan van Hecke estimated turnout to be around 70 to 80 per cent, and there were no incidents reported, raising hopes of a stabilisation of the situation. At a meeting with electoral observers on November 17, UN special envoy Shola Omoregie described the election as a "milestone for Guinea Bissau" and a "victory for democracy". He also remarked that the election was "conducted on the whole in a transparent and orderly manner without any political or military interference".
Provisional results released by the CNE on November 21 showed PAIGC winning 67 out of 100 seats, while the PRS won 28, PRID won three, the National Democratic Party won one, and the Democratic Alliance won one. The CNE placed turnout at 82%. Yala, the PRS President, disputed these results and alleged fraud. Final results were announced on November 26; the number of seats for each party in the final results was identical to the numbers in the provisional results.
Rebellious soldiers attacked President Vieira's home in the early hours of November 23. The soldiers fired artillery at the house and were able to enter it during a three-hour battle with Vieira's guards, but they were repelled without ever reaching Vieira, who was in the house at the time but was unharmed. Two of Vieira's guards were killed in the attack. Vieira held a press conference later in the day, in which he said that the attack had "a single objective — to physically liquidate me", while also asserting that "the situation is under control". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern and urged the rebellious soldiers to "refrain from any measures that could further destabilize the country", while Shola Omoregie said that it was "unacceptable that after legitimate elections they could attack the president and try to kill him." PAIGC President Gomes Junior said that problems in the 21st century should not be settled through violence. The government alleged that Alexandre Tchama Yala was behind the attack, while also asserting that the Tchama Yala and some of the participants in the attack were linked to Bubo Na Tchuto, who was arrested in The Gambia in August but was later released.
On December 3, Senegal said that it had arrested Alexandre Tchama Yala. The government of Guinea-Bissau stated on December 6 that he had been arrested in The Gambia, however; in addition, it said that Alfredo Malu, a former deputy director of intelligence who was thought to be an associate of PRS President Kumba Yala, had been arrested. The government also announced on December 6 that all public demonstrations were banned for the time being due to insecurity. Alfredu Malu was quickly released due to lack of evidence.
At a meeting of the PAIGC Central Committee on December 6, PAIGC Second Vice-President Raimundo Pereira was elected as the party's candidate for the post of President of the National People's Assembly, defeating Francisco Benante (who held the post during the previous parliamentary term) and Hélder Proença. Benante criticized the outcome, arguing that the voting method used by the Central Committee was illegal, while Proença vowed to stand as a candidate when the vote was held in the National People's Assembly, despite the party's decision.
The Supreme Court rejected requests for the annulment of results in some constituencies on December 17. Following the Supreme Court's decision, Yala accepted PAIGC's victory at a press conference on December 18, saying that the PRS would act as a constructive opposition.
On December 22, the newly elected deputies were sworn in and Raimundo Pereira was elected as President of the National People's Assembly. He received 60 votes, while Proença received 37. In accordance with the results of the election, Vieira appointed PAIGC President Carlos Gomes Junior as Prime Minister on December 25. Gomes said on this occasion that his government would focus on "good governance and a reform of the justice system" and that he and Vieira would "put aside any personal differences" in order to work towards solving the country's problems.
The government headed by Gomes was appointed on January 7, 2009, with 21 ministers and 10 secretaries of state; all of the government's 31 members were members of PAIGC. Only four members of the previous government under Correia were retained.
|African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência de Guiné e Cabo Verde, PAIGC)||227,036||49.75||67|
|Party for Social Renewal (Partido da Renovaçao Social, PRS)||115,409||25.29||28|
|Republican Party for Independence and Development (Partido Republicano para Independência e Desenvolvimento, PRID)||34,305||7.52||3|
|New Democracy Party (Partido da Nova Democracia, PND)||10,721||2.35||1|
|Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT)||10,503||2.30||—|
|United Social Democratic Party (Partido Unido Social Democrático, PUSD)||7,695||1.69||—|
|Party for Development, Democracy and Citizenship (Partido para Democracia, Desenvolvimento e Cidadania, PADEC)||7,073||1.55||—|
|Democratic Alliance (Aliança Democrático, AD)||6,321||1.39||1|
|Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata, PSD)||6,315||1.38||—|
|Alliance of Patriotic Forces (Aliança de Forças Patrióticas, AFP)||5,867||1.29||—|
|Democratic Centre (Centro Democrático, CD)||5,475||1.20||—|
|Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democrático, PPD)||5,308||1.16||—|
|Progress Party (Partido de Progresso, PP)||3,095||0.68||—|
|Guinean Democratic Party (Partido Democrático Guineense, PDG)||3,065||0.67||—|
|Guinean Patriotic Union (União Patriótica Guineense, UPG)||2,807||0.62||—|
|Democratic Social Party (Partido Democrático Social, PDS)||1,697||0.37||—|
|National Union for Democracy and Progress (União Nacional para Democracia e Progresso, UNDP)||1,328||0.29||—|
|National Reconciliation Party (Partido da Reconciliação Nacional, PRN)||782||0.17||—|
|Socialist Party – Guinea-Bissau (Partido Socialista – Guiné Bissau, PS–GB)||639||0.14||—|
|Guinean Democratic Movement (Movimento Democrático Guineense, MDG)||638||0.14||—|
|Guinean League for Ecological Protection (Liga Guineense para Protecção Ecológica, LIPE)||233||0.05||—|
|Total (turnout 82%)||456,312||100.00||100|
|Source: rulers.org, AMBP|
- "Guinea Bissau to hold parliamentary polls in November", African Press Agency, 26 March 2008.
- "Bissau: proclamation officielle des résultats, victoire de l'ex-parti unique", AFP, November 26, 2008 (French).
- "Guinée-Bissau: les élections législatives se tiendront fin 2008", AFP, December 8, 2007 (French).
- "Guinea-Bissau polls postponed", AFP (IOL), July 18, 2007.
- "Guinea Bissau MPs vote to extend parliament’s mandate", African Press Agency, 27 March 2008.
- "Le Parlement bissau-guinéen défie la présidence de la République", African Press Agency, April 17, 2008 (French).
- "Le Conseil d’Etat demande la non prolongation du mandat des députés Bissau guinéens", African Press Agency, April 15, 2008 (French).
- "La prolongation du mandat des députés divise les parlementaires bissau-guinéens", African Press Agency, April 15, 2008 (French).
- "La société civile demande la démission du premier ministre", African Press Agency, April 19, 2008 (French).
- "Guinea Bissau leader enacts controversial law extending MPs’ term", African Press Agency, May 19, 2008.
- "Guinea Bissau appeals for funds to hold parliamentary polls", African Press Agency, April 1, 2008.
- "Près de 75% du matériel électoral déjà disponible en Guinée Bissau", African Press Agency, July 1, 2008 (French).
- "Guinea-Bissau's president urges participation in electoral census", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), July 22, 2008.
- "Brasil e PNUD financiam processo eleitoral na Guiné-Bissau", Panapress, July 10, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Kumba Yalá garante vitória do seu partido nas eleições legislativas", Panapress, July 8, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Presidente bissau-guineense exorta compatriotas ao registo eleitoral", Panapress, July 21, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Prorrogado processo de recenseamento eleitoral na Guiné-Bissau", Panapress, July 22, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "PAIGC retira-se de Pacto de Estabilidade Política Nacional", Panapress, July 27, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "GUINEA-BISSAU: Elections fears as unity government splits", IRIN, July 31, 2008.
- "Anulada lei sobre prolongação de mandato de deputados na Guiné-Bissau", Panapress, August 2, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Le président bissau-guinéen nomme un nouveau Premier ministre", Xinhua, August 5, 2008 (French).
- "GUINEA-BISSAU: Uncertain future as President dissolves government", IRIN, August 6, 2008.
- "Guinea-Bissau gets 21 new cabinet ministers", African Press Agency, August 10, 2008.
- "Novo primeiro-ministro bissau-guineense forma Governo", Panapress, August 9, 2008.
- "Guine-Bissau: Novo PM divulga lista completa do seu Governo" Lusa (rtp.pt), August 9, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Guinea Bissau 'foils coup plot'", BBC News, August 8, 2008.
- "Gambia arrests alleged coup plotter", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), August 13, 2008.
- "Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Guinea-Bissau", UN Secretary-General statement, August 11, 2008.
- "UA avalia organização de eleições na Guiné-Bissau", Panapress, August 22, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Signes d’inquiétudes à Bissau, au sujet des législatives de novembre", African Press Agency, September 11, 2008 (French).
- "Bissau high court endorses lists of legislative candidates", African Press Agency, September 17, 2008.
- "EU pre-election mission visits Guinea Bissau", African Press Agency, September 19, 2008.
- "Omissions, errors mar Guinea Bissau’s voter registration lists", African Press Agency, September 29, 2008.
- "L'opposition accuse le président Nino de vouloir reporter les législatives", African Press Agency (Jeuneafrique.com), September 30, 2008 (French).
- "Démarrage officiel de la campagne des élections législatives", African Press Agency (Jeuneafrique.com), October 26, 2008 (French).
- "Le président Vieira menace de poursuivre le PAIGC pour avoir utilisé son image", African Press Agency (Jeuneafrique.com), October 26, 2008 (French).
- "Guinea Bissau prepares for poll as drug dealing claims fly", AFP, November 7, 2008.
- "Guinea-Bissau president escapes coup attempt", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), November 24, 2008.
- "Guinea Bissau set for polls: EU monitor", AFP, November 15, 2008.
- "Guinea Bissau votes in polls amid hopes for stability", AFP, November 16, 2008.
- "Guinea Bissau vote goes smooth amid hopes for stability", AFP, November 16, 2008.
- "Guinea Bissau election 'a victory for democracy': UN", AFP, November 17, 2008.
- "Législatives en Guinée Bissau: large victoire de l'ex-parti unique", AFP, November 21, 2008 (French).
- "PAIGC CONQUISTA MAIORIA QUALIFICADA NA GUINÉ-BISSAU", Agência Bissau, November 22, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Outrage after president's home attacked in Guinea-Bissau 'mutiny'", AFP, November 23, 2008.
- Litos Sanca, "RESULTADOS DEFINITIVOS E LISTA NOMINAL DOS DEPUTADOS DAS ELEIÇÕES LEGISLATIVAS DE 2008", Agência Bissau, November 27, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Second presidential guard dies after Bissau 'mutiny'", AFP, November 26, 2008.
- "Guinea-Bissau attackers linked to failed coup: ministry", AFP, November 25, 2008.
- "Guinea-Bissau bans demos after presidential attack", AFP, December 7, 2008.
- "Ex-director adjunto dos Serviços Secretos libertado na Guiné-Bissau", Panapress, December 7, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Guiné-Bissau: Jurista Raimundo Pereira é proposta do PAIGC para futuro presidente do parlamento do país", Lusa, 8 December 2008 (Portuguese).
- Jeremias Pascoal Chago, "PAIGC ELEGE JURISTA RAIMUNDO PEREIRA PARA PRESIDENCIA DA ASSEMBLEIA NACIONAL POPULAR", Agência Bissau, 10 December 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Tribunal Supremo da Guiné-Bissau confirma vitória do PAIGC", Panapress, December 18, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Kumba Yalá reconhece vitória do PAIGC", Panapress, December 19, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Assembleia Nacional bissau-guineense investe novos deputados", Panapress, December 22, 2008 (Portuguese).
- "Former PM returns to power in Guinea-Bissau", AFP, December 25, 2008.
- "Guinée-Bissau: formation d'un nouveau gouvernement de 31 membres", AFP, January 8, 2009.
- "Novo governo na Guiné-Bissau", Panapress, January 8, 2009 (Portuguese).