Guinea Bissau: Opposition Coalition Wins Majority in Parliamentary Elections

Harare — In Guinea-Bissau, a coalition of opposition organizations gained a majority of parliamentary seats in the first legislative elections held since President Umaro Sissoco Embalo dissolved the National People’s Assembly more than a year earlier.

According to results released by the electoral commission, the five-party Terra Ranka coalition, which is led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), won 54 of 102 seats in the elections held on June 4, surpassing Embalo’s Madem G15 party, which received 29. Twelve seats went to the Party for Social Renewal (PRS), six to the Workers’ Party, and one to the Assembly of the People United, reports Al Jazeera.

Over 20 political parties and alliances competed for seats in the elections that would bring back parliament after a 13-month hiatus. Nearly 900,000 voters in Guinea-Bissau were eligible to cast their ballot on June 4 to elect a new parliament.

In the present political system, the government is chosen by the majority party or coalition, although the president has the authority to remove it under specific conditions. This has previously resulted in political impasse and squabbling. The tiny West African nation has also seen ongoing turmoil in the form of many coup attempts and disputed election results.

After a violent struggle with Portugal, Guinea-Bissau attained independence in 1974. Since the country’s introduction of multi-party elections in 1994, there have been 22 prime ministers and three military coups. However, 200 foreign observers who were there for the voting declared it to be “free, transparent, and calm”, and stated they had not seen any significant incidents. Among them were missions from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, led by former Timorese vice-minister of foreign affairs Alberto Carlos, an African Union mission led by former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, and an ECOWAS mission led by former Cape Verdean president Jorge Carlos Fonseca.

Guinea-Bissau is a tropical republic on the Atlantic coast of West Africa that is well-known for its national parks and wildlife. The thinly inhabited, wooded Bijagós archipelago is a designated biosphere reserve. The Orango Islands National Park, a saltwater hippos’ home, includes its major island, Bubaque. The capital of Bissau is a port city with Portuguese colonial architecture in its historic district.