Bissau-Guineans vote to elect a new president or re-elect Jose Mario Vaz, who faces 11 other candidates including former Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira.
Umaro Sissoco Embalo, at the head of a dissenting PAIGC, the party in power, is among the candidates of this election. Nuno Nabiam, beaten in the second round in 2014, is also a candidate for the Guinea-Bissau presidency. Driven by the military between the two rounds as he was the favorite of the 2012 election, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior is again trying his luck.
The stability of Guinea-Bissau is the main issue of this election. The presidential election is held following strong tensions between President Jose Mario Vaz and the PAIGC, the ruling party that elected him in 2014, also a majority in parliament.
“The people of Guinea-Bissau are sovereign, I will respect the verdict of the polls, I have accomplished my mission of restoring peace and tranquility, and during my term, there was no assassination, said Mr. Vaz after voting in a district in the center of Bissau, the capital.
“I voted for change, to help (…) restore peace and stability in the country, and I call on the elected head of state to rehabilitate the sectors of health, education, and agriculture,” said Quemo Sanha, a 42-year-old bricklayer.
ECOWAS, an organization that brings together 15 West African countries, including Guinea-Bissau, has warned of the threat of civil war. Jose Mario Vaz is the first democratically elected president of the country to have completed his mandate, since the democratic opening of the country in 1994.
Under the presidency of Mr. Vaz, the Prime Ministers succeeded one after the other, a sign of the political instability of the country. Guinea-Bissau has had about 10 coups or attempted coup d’etat since independence. Many political assassinations took place in the country.