Guinea-Bissau presidential election, 2005

Guinea-Bissau presidential election, 2005

Guinea-Bissau held a presidential election on 19 June 2005, and a second round run-off vote was held on 24 July. The election marked the end of a transition to democratic rule after the previously elected government was overthrown in a September 2003 military coup led by General Veríssimo Correia Seabra.

Post-coup transition

Following the coup, a civilian government was nominated to oversee the transition and sworn in on 28 September 2003. Henrique Rosa was appointed interim President following talks with military, political, and civil society leaders, while Artur Sanhá of the Social Renewal Party (PRS) was named Prime Minister.

A legislative election, delayed numerous times during the presidency of Kumba Ialá, took place on 28 March 2004. The poll was declared free and fair by election observers and the former ruling party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), won a plurality of the seats. Ialá's party, the PRS, placed second, followed by the United Social Democratic Party (PUSD). PAIGC leader Carlos Gomes Júnior took office as Prime Minister in May 2004.

The transitional period has been one of increased political and national stability. The caretaker government has managed to improve Guinea-Bissau's human rights record, as evidenced in the most recent U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices entry for Guinea-Bissau (released 28 February 2005, which says "The [Transitional] Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas"." The previous report (released 25 February 2004) stated "The [Ialá] Government's human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit serious abuses"."

The biggest threat to stability came on 6 October 2004 when a mutiny by soldiers—instigated by unpaid wages—turned violent. General Veríssimo Correia Seabra and his lieutenant were killed by the revolting soldiers. Despite this setback, the tense relations between the government and the military improved with the signing of a memorandum of understanding.


On 10 May 2005, the Supreme Court published a list of candidates that will contest the election. Three previously barred candidates were allowed to contest the poll and appeared on the final list of candidates published on 18 May. The 13 candidates are:
*Adelino Mano Queta - Independent
*Antonieta Rosa Gomes - Guinean Civic Forum-Social Democracy (FCG-SD). Contested the 1994 presidential election and won 1.79% of the vote.
*Aregado Mantenque Té - Workers' Party (PT)
*Paulino Empossa Ié - Independent
*Faustino Fadut Imbali - Manifest Party of the People (PMP). Prime Minister from March to December of 2001.
*Francisco Fadul - United Social Democratic Party (PUSD). Prime Minister from 3 December 1998 to 19 February 2000.
*Mamadú Iaia Djaló - Independent
*Idrissa Djaló - National Unity Party (PUN)
*João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira - Independent. President from 1980 to 1999. Like Ialá, he was banned from national politics for five years but his candidacy was approved by the supreme court.
*João Tátis Sá - Guinean People's Party (PPG)
*Kumba Ialá - Social Renewal Party (PRS). He contested the country's first democratic elections in 1994, losing to incumbent João Bernardo Vieira, and won the 1999/2000 election. He served as president from 17 February 2000 until his ouster by the military in September 2003. His nomination is controversial because the transitional government announced a five-year ban on political activities for former leaders following the coup. Despite this, the Supreme Court approved his candidacy.
*Malam Bacai Sanhá - African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAICG). He served as acting president from 14 May 1999 to 17 February 2000. Sanhá ran in the previous presidential elections, held on 28 November 1999 and placed second with 23.37% of the vote to Kumba Ialá's 38.81%. In the run-off held on 16 January 2000, he was soundly defeated by Ialá, who received 72% of the vote.
*Mário Lopes da Rosa - Independent

Diplomats and political analysts say that the participation of the two ex-presidents Vieira and Ialá may exacerbate tensions among ethnic groups and the military that could destabilize the country. Ex-President Vieira has a troubled relationship with the armed forces. Ex-President Ialá, on the other hand, has a very poor reputation among potential donor countries and financial institutions, with the IMF and World Bank freezing aid to the country during his presidency. He has a considerable amount of support from the Balanta ethnic group which dominates the military, but has little support from the other groups. There are unconfirmed reports of the establishment of armed groups along ethnic lines in Bissau.

Four candidates who were approved to contest the election withdrew in the weeks leading up to the poll. They are:
*Abubacar Baldé - National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP)
*Iancuba Indjai - Solidarity and Labor Party (PST). Declared support for Malam Bacai Sanhá.
*Ibraima Sow - Independent. Declared support for João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira.
*Salvador Tchongó - Resistance of Guinea-Bissau - Bafatá Movement (RGB-MB)


First round

Voting took place peacefully on 19 June. Chief EU election monitor Johan Van Heck said his group noted no major irregularities, adding, "We have the impression that throughout the country everyone has had the chance to express themselves without being intimidated." The next day, Van Heck praised the fact that "the military forces abstained from intervening in the process and rather helped the conduct of the election." The EU observer added, "More than 90 percent of the polling stations were fully operational an hour after they had opened, and the secret ballot was guaranteed."

On 22 June, provisional tallies put Sanhá in first place, followed by Vieira and Ialá in third. Members of Ialá's Social Renewal Party (PRS) deemed the results "false".

On 24 June, at least two people died when police fired tear gas and live bullets at a crowd of Ialá supporters, who were protesting the released results.

Final results of the first round were released on 25 June. Malam Bacai Sanhá received 35.45% of the vote, João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira won 28.87%, and Kumba Ialá 25.00%. [ "GUINEA-BISSAU: Kumba Yala agrees to accept election defeat while insisting he won"] , IRIN, June 28, 2005.] Ten other candidates split the remaining votes. Electoral commission head Malam Mané made "a strong appeal for moderation and public-spiritedness." Voter turnout for the first round was placed at 87.3%.

Beginning on 25 June, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade held separate meetings with the three main candidates; Wade said that he was mediating at the request of ECOWAS and was not interfering in Guinea-Bissau's affairs. Kumba Ialá, speaking at a press conference in Dakar on 27 June, accepted the results "in the interests of peace and stability", although he still maintained that he had actually received the most votes. According to Ialá, he won 38%, Sanhá won 28%, and Vieira won 26%; he alleged that the votes were manipulated so that his total went to Sanhá and Sanhá's total went to Vieira. Also on 27 June, Vieira promised to "respect the verdict of the ballot boxes", as did Sanhá, who described himself as "a man of peace and stability".

econd round (runoff)

On July 2, Ialá announced his support for Vieira's candidacy in the second round. He called Vieira "a symbol of the construction of the Guinean state and of national unity because he proclaimed our independence in the hills of Boe" and said that he could "be relied upon to defend our national independence, to oppose neo-colonialism, to build the republic and promote peace, stability and above all, national reconciliation". Given Ialá's sharp hostility to Vieira in previous years, this endorsement was viewed as surprising by many, and there was reportedly significant dissatisfaction with the decision among Ialá's supporters. [ [ "GUINEA-BISSAU: Kumba Yala to back Nino Vieira in second round of presidential election"] , "IRIN", July 4, 2005.]

The run-off between Sanhá and Vieira was conducted on 24 July 2005. Results were expected in about a week. [] , []

On July 28, the electoral commission reported that Vieira had garnered 20,000 vote more than Sanhá in run-off voting, however, the results were "provisional" since the PAIGC demanded a recount, citing irregularities in the capital and in the west. After the provisional results were announced, Vieira praised his rival Sanha, called him a democrat and said he hoped he would help unify the country; he also vowed that "from today, Guinea-Bissau will change in the right direction". A spokesman for Sanha alleged fraud, however. []



External links

* [ Angus Reid Consultants - Election Tracker]
* [] (In Portuguese)
* [ Afrol News]
* [ African Elections Database]
* [ IRIN News]
* [ PAIGC Official Site] (In Portuguese)
* [ PUSD Official Site] (In Portuguese)
* [ Official Site of PUSD Candidate Francisco Fadul] (In Portuguese)
* [ U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2004]

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