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Guinea-Bissau - Political Parties

The independence of Guinea-Bissau was the outcome of a long struggle for national liberation, at first of a political nature and later, from early 1963 onwards, by the military action of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Yerde (PAIGC) against Portugal, which at that time was under the rgime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Under a Treaty concluded at Algiers on 26 August 1974, Portugal recognized Guinea-Bissau as an independent and sovereign State.

The historical roots of the Popular National Assembly came from a meeting of the Higher Council of Fight (CSL / PAIGC) held from 7 to 17 August 1971. At that meeting it was decided that the Party should take all necessary measures to organize general elections in 1972 in Regions Released under the modality of universal and secret suffrage and thus to build the First National People's Congress (ANP) in Guinea-Bissau. Based on this decision, the process and method to be adapted for the elections, including the criteria for the selection of candidates for the Popular National Assembly, were defined in a document entitled " Basis for the creation of the 1st National People's Congress in Guinea" and approved In December 1971, by the Executive Committee of the Fight (CEL).

After eight months (January to August 1972) of an intense information campaign, debates and discussions, both in the Party's grassroots organizations and in large gatherings, elections were held in all regions liberated between the end of August and mid-October Of 1972.

President Joao Bernardo Vieira led the country since a coup in 1980 until he was ousted by the military in 1999. His successor, Kumba Yala (PRS) was also removed in a coup in 2003. President Vieira regained the presidency in July 2005 by winning the presidential elections as an independent candidate. He was sworn into office in October and subsequently named Aristide Gomes as his Prime Minister.

After constitutional reforms introducing multipartyism were adopted in May 1991, polling was first scheduled for late 1992, then postponed three times before definitely being set on 11 May 1994. In both the legislative and simultaneous presidential contests, the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was for the first time challenged by several other groups, some in coalition. Altogether 1136 candidates vied for the 100 Assembly seats while seven presidential hopefuls challenged incumbent Joao Bernardo Vieira, who came to power in the November 1980 coup dEtat.

A total of 62 Assembly seats went to the left-wing PAIGC (which has retained its name despite breaking with Cape Verde party years before), which topped four others gaining representation including the Party of Social Renovation (PRS) of main presidential challenger Koumba Yalla, who was backed by the other opposition parties and ultimately lost out by a narrow margin to Mr. Vieira in a rung-off election on 7 August.

The 1999 election campaign lasted from 6 to 26 November. Altogether 11 political parties contested the 102 parliamentary seats and 11 candidates vied for the presidency, all of the latter promising tranquility and prosperity for the country. Polling day itself - the second multi-party elections in the nation's history - marked the end of the recent transitional period to democracy and was supervised by numerous foreign observers from international organizations and national delegations. Logistical problems and rioting, resulting in some injuries, plagued the voting process. Final results gave the most Assembly seats to the Party for Social Renovation (PRS) with 37 seats, followed by the Guinea-Bissau Resistance (RGB) party and the left-wing PAIGC with 27 and 25 seats respectively; the presidency, for its part, was won by veteran opposition leader Koumba Yalla (PRS) over Mr. Sanha, who was supported by the PAIGC. The observers considered the polling fair and transparent.

The new President of the Union for Change (AM), Amine Saad considered 29 July 2002 that Guinea-Bissau risked "disappearing as a Nation". After her election at the second UM congress with 80 percent of the vote, Amine Saad challenged Guinean opposition political parties to "stem the bleeding of nationality." This challenge, according to Amine Saad, involves "the union of the opposition around a candidate who can defeat the current President Kumba Ial and remove the ruling Social Renewal Party (PRS) from the governance of Guinea-Bissau. The new President of UM warned the opposition parties of the risk that the country runs saying: "This country may disappear as a nation. Therefore, if we want to continue living in a country and in a democratic nation we must all be humble and recognize the values ??of each one. "

The final results in the 28 March 2004 elections showed the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), formerly the country's single party, in first place, with a relative majority of 45 seats out of 102. The Social Renovation Party (PRS), former President Kumba Yala's party, came in second, with 35 seats. The Social Democratic United Party (PUSD) took 17 seats; the Electoral Union, a coalition of five small parties, obtained two, and the United Popular Alliance (a coalition of two parties) won one. The last two seats, which are reserved for Guinea-Bissau citizens living overseas, were not filled, as those nationals were exempted from the voting by the national authorities.

However, the President's camp never secured a parliamentary majority, resulting in the formation of three different governments before the 2008 elections. Guinea-Bissau's largest political parties offered few solutions at a time when dialog is needed to address the most significant challenges, particularly the economy and security sector reform. Both the PAIGC and the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) are weakened by divisions within their parties and have had little success arriving at a modus vivendi between themselves and the Government. PRS leaders believe they still had a claim on the presidency since Kumba Yala's 2004 ouster in a bloodless coup, but they reiterate that theirs is a peaceful party.

Neither the opposition parties nor the Government (with many party-less ministers after their suspension from the PAIGC) seemed to operate on democratic principles, and in fact, most party leaders had no concept of them. There were no efforts to activate or communicate with a popular base; there is no clear policy agenda; deputies were marginalized from party headquarters; and there was no discernible effort to draft legislation. The primary purpose of the political party is to wield as much power as possible in what is viewed as a zero-sum game. This is a consequence of having no robust private sector in Guinea-Bissau. Once a party is out of government, members have no way to make a living, so they dedicate all efforts to regaining power as soon as possible. Government is the only business in Bissau.

The 2008 elections were seen as a crucial step towards securing stability in the country of 1.6 million inhabitants. The United Nations, the European Union (EU) as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) helped defray the cost of the elections (US$ 8 million).

More than 20 parties and coalitions contested the 2008 elections. Major contenders were the PAIGC, led by former prime minister Carlos Gomes Jnior; former president Yala's PRS; and the PRID of former prime minister Aristide Gomes, a close ally of the President. Other parties included another breakaway party from the PRS, the National Democratic Party (PND), and the Alliance of Patriotic Forces (AFP), which had won one seat in the 2004 elections. The PAIGC was widely expected to win a landslide victory.

Many parties initially focused on traditional election issues, promising to provide a stronger economy, better health care and education and more reliable energy supplies. In the run-up to the polls, however, drug trafficking became a major issue after former president Yala (PRS) accused President Vieira of being the country's No. 1 drug trafficker Other parties accused their rivals of being directly or indirectly involved in illicit activities. Guinea-Bissau is considered a hub of drug trafficking between Latin America and Europe. In early October, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited the Security Council to consider imposing sanctions on those responsible for drug trafficking in the country.

A total of 82 percent of the 600,000 registered voters turned out at the polls. Polling took place without any major incident. For financial reasons, no elections were held for the two seats reserved for Guinea-Bissau citizens living overseas. More than 150 international observers, including 50 from the EU, monitored the polls. The EU observer mission praised the calm and orderly elections, as well as the high turnout. The United Nations praised the elections as a "victory for democracy".

The PAIGC won 67 seats, securing a two-thirds majority in parliament. The PRS followed with 28 seats. The PRID took three seats. The remainder went to small parties. Former president Yala (PRS) denounced what he considered to be a manipulation of the vote.

On 2 January 2009, Carlos Gomes Jnior (PAIGC) was sworn in as Prime Minister. On 2 March, President Vieira was assassinated by a group of soldiers. The following day, Speaker Pereira was sworn in as Acting President, tasked with organizing presidential elections within two months.

The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won the first parliamentary elections since the 2012 coup. It took 57 seats in the 102-member People's National Assembly while the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) took 41. Prior to the 2014 elections, the PAIGC elected Domingos Simes Pereira as its Chairman and candidate for prime minister, and Jose Mario Vaz - former Finance Minister before the 2012 coup - as its presidential candidate. Vaz promised to create jobs and revive the economy.

The PRS endorsed Abel Incada as its presidential candidate. However, the PRS leader and former President, Mr. Kumba Yala, backed Mr. Nuno Gomes Nabiam, a former PRS member who ran as an independent. Nabiam, who also had support from the army, promised to consolidate peace, national unity, democracy and development. Yala's death on 4 April briefly suspended the election campaign but presidential and parliamentary polls went ahead on 13 April. None of the 13 presidential candidates secured an absolute majority to be elected in the first round. In the run-off presidential elections held on 18 May, Vaz defeated Nabiam.

The country had been in transition since the 2012 coup, which occurred between two rounds of presidential elections. The coup leaders suspended the Constitution, dissolved the People's National Assembly and detained Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jnior (PAIGC) and the acting President and former Speaker Raimundo Pereira (PAIGC), who were both released in late April that year.

In accordance with a transition pact brokered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in May 2012, the People's National Assembly was reinstated and Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo (PAIGC) became Acting President of the Republic. The parliamentary term - which was due to end in November 2012 ? was extended until the new parliamentary and presidential elections. These were initially expected by May 2013 but were postponed several times to April 2014, due mainly to lack of funds and logistical problems.

Guinea-Bissau has been in the throes of a power struggle since August 2015, when Guinea-Bissau's President Jose Mario Vaz sacked then prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Two factions of the ruling PAIGC have failed to resolve their differences over Pereira's successor, Baciro Dja, since he was given the job in June 2016, with some lawmakers refusing to work with him.

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