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Guinea-Bissau - Politics

The political system in Guinea-Bissau has collapsed. Guinea-Bissau had been in the throes of a power struggle since August 2015, when Guinea-Bissau's President Jose Mario Vaz sacked 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 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.

Lus de Almeida Cabral was first elected President of the Council of State by the Constituent Assembly on 24 September 1973 when the PAIGC unilaterally declared independence from Portugal. The nations independence was formally recognized in 1974. He was re-elected President by the National Peoples Assembly on 13 March 1977. Following the overthrow of the Cabral regime in 1980 and a four-year period of military rule, the National Peoples Assembly elected Joo Bernardo Vieira President on 16 May 1984. He was re-elected on 19 June 1989.

Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its independence from Portugal in 1974. Guinea Bissau witnessed nine coups or attempted coups from 1980 to 2015. The ongoing political crisis could have negative impacts on the security situation in the country and could breed the way for drug trafficking and international crime. Guinea-Bissaus porous borders remain vulnerable to threats, including terrorism and trafficking. Drug traffickers might profit from the power vacuum.

In April 2012, a military coup disrupted the presidential election as it headed to a run-off. Several logistical problems and delays caused the elections to be repeatedly postponed, having initially been scheduled for 24 November 2013 and then 16 March 2014. Turnout in Guinea-Bissau's watershed presidential and parliamentary polls was just under 90%, the election commission announced on 24 April 2014, a record for the impoverished West African nation. The country went to the polls on 13 April 2014 for the first time since a military coup, in a vote aimed to turn the page on decades of political instability and military violence.

Any breakthrough in the institutional crisis gripping Guinea-Bissau would be short-lived if the structural causes of instability were not addressed, the senior United Nations official in the West African country told the Security Council 14 February 2017, urging national actors to implement the Conakry Agreement signed in 2016 to surmount the political impasse. Modibo Tour, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) called for a more sustained and well-coordinated approach going forward. National authorities must focus on reviewing the Constitution and revising both the electoral law and those governing political parties in preparation for the 2018 legislative elections.

Further, he called on Guinea-Bissaus international partners to press for implementation of the six-point road map brokered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the subsequent Conakry Agreement. In the absence of a fully functioning Government, it was essential that the United Nations and international financial institutions coordinate efforts towards mitigating risks and socioeconomic vulnerabilities, including through business-for-peace initiatives.

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