After an eleven-year-long liberation war,
Guinea-Bissau had become an independent state in 1974,
but from the beginning the problems accumulated. The
economy was in crisis and there was great concern in
politics. The situation was not improved by the
introduction of multi-party democracy in the early
1990s. Civil war raged in the country from 1998 to 1999.
Presidential elections were held in 1999 and 2005, but
none of those elected then could stand for office: Kumba
Yalá was deposed in a bloodless coup in 2003, and João
Bernardo Vieira was assassinated in 2009. The military
regained power in 2012, but two years later held new
Independent Guinea-Bissau got off to a head start.
The liberation war of 1963–1974 had devastated large
areas and a fifth of the population had moved abroad.
The fertile agricultural land was forced to import food.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Guinea-Bissau. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The year before independence, Amilcar Cabral, leader
of the African Independence Party of Guinea-Bissau and
Cape Verde (PAIGC) had been murdered. His brother Luis
Cabral was appointed president and tried to fill the
void, but he failed in economic policy. Large aid
efforts from foreign donors failed to reverse the
negative trend. Amilcar Cabral's ideas for popular
participation in the country's government and social
transformation were not managed by the new management.
The distance between the rulers and the rest of the
In 1980, Prime Minister João Bernardo Vieira took
power in a coup. This led to a total quarry between
Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde in 1981. Until the late
1980s, Guinea-Bissau received military assistance from
the Soviet Union and East Germany.
In 1985, Vieira accused a group of military and
government officials of planning a coup against him.
Most of them belonged to the Balante group and were
veterans of the liberation war. Six of them were
executed in 1986 and the incident created a resentment
among the balante that came to be of importance in the
disturbances later on.
Vieira initiated a liberalization of the economy
according to the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund, the IMF model. The economic tightening increased
the political tensions and several coup attempts were
In the early 1990s, the country's leadership
succumbed to pressure from domestic opposition and
international aid donors and introduced a multi-party
system. Four years later, the first multi-party was
held. There, PAIGC was challenged by about ten parties
and eight candidates ran in the presidential election.
PAIGC won clearly in the parliamentary elections and in
the second round of the presidential election, Vieira
won over Kumba Yalá from the Social Renewal Party (PRS)
with a margin of 12,000 votes.
Civil war breaks out
The deteriorating economy and corruption allegations
led to increased popular dissatisfaction. In January
1998, weapons intended for the separatist movement MFDC
in neighboring Senegal were seized. Vieira dismissed
Army commander Ansumane Mané on the grounds that he had
been involved in arms smuggling to the rebels. Mané in
turn accused a group around the Minister of Defense for
the crime. According to Mané, a trial would have
revealed that Vieira was also involved.
In June of that year, soldiers, led by Mané, rebelled
and demanded the resignation of the government. Civil
war broke out. Following an appeal from Vieira, Senegal
and Guinea (Conakry) sent soldiers to the country. His
decision to seek help from outside undermined his
position. More and more government soldiers went over to
the rebels, who in autumn 1998 controlled almost the
entire country. A peace agreement was signed in November
1998. According to this, a government with
representatives of both sides would be appointed and
elections held. The foreign soldiers would be replaced
by a peace force from the Ecowas regional cooperation
In January 1999, a civil transitional government
could take office. In April of that year, the UN opened
a new office, Unogbis, which would seek to promote
peaceful development in the country. But unrest
persisted and in May the military took power in a coup.
Vieira went into exile in Portugal.
A 1999 parliamentary inquiry identified officers in
the Vieira circle as responsible for the arms smuggling
to the MFDC and stated that the president had known what
was going on. In the investigation, Mané was completely
In the parliamentary elections in the fall of 1999,
Yalás won the PRS, followed by the Guinea-Bissau
Resistance Party-Bafata Movement (RGB-MB), and PAIGC. In
the presidential election, a second round of elections
was called for in January 2000, which Yalá won.
PRS formed government with RGB-MB. But tensions soon
arose between Yalá and parts of the army that regarded
Mané as the country's real leader. The situation
intensified as new violence erupted in Bissau. Behind
the violence were soldiers loyal to Mané. The government
troops quickly broke down the uprising and Mané was
Yalá was soon accused of being powerful and
capricious and in 2001 left the RGB-MB government. A
proposal for a new constitution, which would, among
other things, reduce the president's influence over the
defense, was adopted by the National Assembly that year,
but did not come into force because Yalá delayed the
formal approval. The government said it had failed coup
attempts in 2001 and 2002. At the same time as the
president strengthened his own power, the economy was
deteriorating. More and more demanded Yala's departure.
In the fall of 2002, he dismissed his entire government
and dissolved Parliament. New elections were announced
in April 2003, but the elections were postponed several
times and harassment against the opposition increased.
New military coup and new elections
When the elections were postponed again in September
2003, the military took power in a bloody coup. Army
chief Verissimo Correia Seabra proclaimed president, but
the military promised free elections. Yalá was arrested
and resigned formally as president. The coup was
condemned by the outside world but was supported by most
Guinean parties, including Yala's own.
A civil transitional government took office in
October. A council of 56 members would serve as
parliament until elections could be held. The Council
included, among others, representatives of the army and
the political parties. The council gave everyone
involved in the coup amnesty and parliamentary elections
were announced until 2004. It was won by PAIGC and its
leader Carlos Gomes Júnior took office as prime
minister. But unrest in the military continued.
Tensions rose again before the 2005 presidential
election, where the battle was between PAIGC's Malam
Bacai Sanhá, Kumba Yalá and former dictator Vieira, who
returned from exile. It was Vieira who won after
defeating Sanhá in a second round of elections.
Guinea-Bissau becomes transit country for
Just a month after Vieira took office, the entire
government was allowed to leave. Now came a troubled
time when the prime ministers were replaced regularly
when the various governments could not hear of their
policies in the National Assembly. At the same time, the
economy was in crisis.
In addition, in 2007, the UN agency warned that
Guinea-Bissau had become a transit country for the
smuggling of drugs between Latin America and Europe.
Some judges suspected that there was a settlement
between President Vieira and the army chief that the
military would stay away from politics in exchange for
retaining the profits from the drug trade. The outside
world warned that Guinea-Bissau was turning into a "drug
Guinea-Bissau asked the EU for help in stopping
cocaine smuggling. Among other things, it was suspected
that Colombian drug cartels had funded Vieira's election
campaign in 2005. The contact between Vieira and the
Colombian drug dealers would have been mediated by
neighboring Guinea's then-president Lansana Conté.
In 2008, reports of a coup attempt were rejected.
Naval Chief José America Bubo Na Tchuto was arrested but
managed to escape to Gambia.
Prior to the November 2008 parliamentary elections,
much of the election campaign was about drug
trafficking. Some politicians accused their
counter-candidates of being involved in traffic or
receiving money from drug smugglers. PRS leader Kumba
Yalá (a resident of Morocco) accused Vieira of paying
voters to vote for the newly formed Republican Party for
Independence and Development (Prid).
The election was won by PAIGC and in December
President Vieira appointed PAIGC's Carlos Gomes Júnior
as prime minister.
Vieira is murdered
The hopes of a more stable development in the country
disappeared in March 2009 when Army Chief General
Batista Tagme Na Wai was killed in a bomb attack. A day
later, Vieira was also murdered by a group of soldiers.
In Western media, it was speculated that the killing had
links to the drug trade or whether it was revenge for
the murder of Na Wai or previous wrongdoing.
In April, presidential elections were announced until
June 28, 2009. The period until then became uneasy.
Several politicians who stood close to Vieira were
murdered and a number of PAIGC politicians were
arrested. However, the election was held as planned and
PAIGC's Malam Bacai Sanhá was elected new president.
The new president promised to make peace in the
country and that investigations should be made of the
assassination of Vieira, army chief Na Wai and others,
but nothing happened. Gomes was allowed to remain as
prime minister despite strong tensions between him and
the president following PAIGC leadership struggles. At
the same time, the contradictions between Army Chief
José Zamora Induta and his closest husband António
In April 2010, a group of soldiers revolted and
seized Gomes, Induta and about 10 people, most of them
military. Indjai accused Induta of being involved in the
drug trade. However, there was much talk that Indjai
acted not to be singled out in an investigation
initiated by Induta. Hundreds of people gathered outside
the building where Gomes was held demanding that he be
released. He was released shortly thereafter.
President Sanhá chose to tone down the events. In
June, President Indjai appointed a new Army Chief and Na
Tchuto was re-elected as Chief of the Navy. Western aid
donors protested that Indjai had been left behind. At
the same time, countries such as Angola and other Ecowas
members were more pragmatic. Angola took the initiative
for a new defense reform, and a number of bilateral
agreements were concluded, including military
cooperation. An Angolan peace force, Missang, of 200 men
arrived in the country in March 2011.
In the summer of 2011, the opposition organized big
demonstrations demanding Gome's departure and accused
him of planning the murder of Vieira, and criticized the
government for high food prices.
In December, fighting broke out in Bissau. Thirty
people were arrested, including Na Tchuto and several
PAIGC politicians who were in opposition to Prime
Minister Gomes. According to some sources, it was a
campaign of soldiers demanding higher wages, while
others claimed that it was a conflict between two army
factions over the control of drug trafficking.
Gomes wins the presidential election but is
dismissed by the military
In January 2012, President Malam Bacai Sanhá passed
away after a long illness. Presidential elections were
announced until March 18, 2012. Gomes resigned as prime
minister in order to run for president.
Gomes got 49 percent of the vote in the first round,
but that wasn't enough to win already. The second
election of former President Yalá and several other
candidates claimed that cheating had occurred, which was
rejected by both international election observers and
the electoral commission. Before the second round of
elections could be held, the military, led by Indjai,
took power on April 12.
The coup was condemned by the UN, the African Union
(AU), Ecowas, the EU and the United States. Penalties
were imposed on Guinea-Bissau and large parts of the aid
were withdrawn. The military claimed that it was acting
to stave off a threat from Angola but most of it
indicated that it was about preventing Gomes from being
elected president. He had been driving a defense reform
that would mean a slimming of the military.
After discussions with about 20 parties, the coup
makers formed a national "transitional council" to
prepare for parliamentary elections. With the support of
Ecowas, especially Nigeria, the parties agreed to hold
elections within twelve months and that a regional
force, Ecomib, should be deployed.
In the summer of 2012, the UN Security Council stated
in a report that drug trafficking through Guinea-Bissau
had increased after the coup in April.
In 2013, former Navy commander José Américo Bubo Na
Tchuto and two of his Guinean assistants were arrested
by the US anti-drug agency DEA off the Cape Verde coast
and taken to the United States to be prosecuted for
their role in the drug and arms trade. The arrest was
said to have been made possible through DEA's contacts
with Guinean military high up in the hierarchy.
Vaz wins the presidential election
In the presidential and parliamentary elections held
in April 2014, PAIGC won a scarce majority in the
National Assembly. In order to reach a decision in the
presidential election, a second round of elections was
held in May between PAIGC's José Mário Vaz and Nuno
Gomes Nabiam, who belonged to the PRS but stood as
independent. Vaz clearly won by almost 62 percent of the
A civil transitional government will take office in October 2003
A council of 56 members will serve as parliament until elections can be held.
The council includes representatives of the army, representatives of most of the
country's 24 political parties and eight civilian members. The Council gives
everyone involved in the amnesty coup and parliamentary elections are announced