Principal Government Officials
Chief of State: President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo
Head of Government: Prime Minister Rui Duarte de Barros
On August 10, 2005 Joao Bernardo Vieira was declared the winner of a July 24 presidential runoff election over Malam Bacai Sanha in an election judged by international observers to be free and fair. President Vieira was inaugurated on October 1, 2005. Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior refused to accept Vieira's victory, and on October 28, Vieira dismissed Gomes and his government. Five days later, he installed former PAIGC official Aristide Gomes as Prime Minister.
Throughout 2006, President Vieira struggled to maintain control over the National Assembly and the general operations of the government. In early March 2007, the three main political parties--the PAIGC, the PRS, and the PUSD--agreed to push for a "government of consensus" in the interests of parliamentary stability. President Vieira refused to accept the decision, and on March 19 the National Popular Assembly passed a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Aristide Gomes. President Vieira was then faced with the decision of dissolving the government and calling for new elections or appointing a new prime minister. Prime Minister Gomes resigned on March 29. In early April 2007, after much resistance, President Vieira accepted the appointment of Martinho Ndafa Cabi as the new Prime Minister.
In February 2008, the PAIGC withdrew support of Prime Minister Martinho Ndafa Cabi, and the March legislative elections were postponed. By July, the PAIGC pulled out of the political "government of consensus" coalition days before the Supreme Court ruled that the extension of parliament's mandate was unconstitutional, thus triggering President Vieira to dissolve parliament and remove Prime Minister Cabi. President Vieira appointed Carlos Correia as new prime minister.
On November 16, 2008 Guinea-Bissau held successful legislative elections that were praised by the international community as well-organized and transparent. PAIGC won the majority of seats in the National Assembly. Carlos Gomes Junior was appointed prime minister. The new parliament has called for a fight against drug trafficking. This is especially important given the recent increase in news media reports examining Guinea-Bissau's role in the West African regional drug trade.
On March 1, 2009 Armed Forces General Batista Tagme Na Wai was killed in a bomb blast at the military headquarters. The following morning President Vieira was killed by a group of soldiers at the presidential palace. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira--the constitutionally-designated interim president--took the oath of office on March 3 during a special session of parliament. As a result of the June 28 presidential election and the July 26 runoff, former interim president Malam Bacai Sanha defeated former president Kumba Yala and assumed office on September 8, 2009. In concert with support from the international community, the United States contributed $300,000 toward these elections, which were judged to be free, fair, and without incident or notable tension.
On April 1, 2010, ex-Navy Chief of Staff Bubo Na Tchuto left the UN premises in Bissau, where he had sought refuge in late December 2009 after deserting the military and going into exile in The Gambia in 2008. He was accompanied on April 1 by troops loyal to Deputy Defense Chief of Staff Antonio Indjai, who then arrested and detained Defense Chief of Staff Jose Zamora Induta and Prime Minister Carlos Gomes. (The latter was released after vigorous public and international protests.) The United States condemned the kidnappings and violence, and called for release of those illegally detained and for a return to constitutional order. On April 8, the United States listed Na Tchuto and his associate, Ibraima “Papa” Camara, as narcotics trafficking kingpins for the purposes of freezing their assets, banning their travel, and precluding Americans from doing business with them. These existing conditions, compounded by the Government of Guinea-Bissau's June 30 appointment of Indjai as the new chief of staff and the subsequent reappointment of Na Tchuto to his former position, led to decisions by the United States to suspend most military assistance and by the European Union to terminate by September 30, 2010, its mission for the reform of Guinea-Bissau's security forces. On May 6, 2011, Lucinda Ahukarie, chief of one of the country’s most credible law enforcement institutions, resigned over concern about the military’s threats to her agency’s fight against narcotrafficking.
On June 6, 2011, the National Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a law against female genital mutilation (FGM), which will allow penalties of up to 5 years in prison for perpetrators of FGM.
On December 26, 2011, a military power struggle and ostensible coup attempt resulted in an attack on Army/Armed Forces Chief of Staff Indjai by military troops and civilians loyal to Navy Chief Na Tchuto. The government and military subsequently arrested and detained Na Tchuto and his supporters.
After being hospitalized since November 2011 in Paris, President Sanha, who was known to have diabetes, died on January 9, 2012. By law, National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira became acting president and arranged new elections, which were held March 18, 2012. Provisional results in a peaceful, open process indicate that Prime Minister Carlos Gomes, Jr. won 49 percent of the vote and the runner-up, former president Kumba Yala, received 23 percent. Since no candidate earned more than 50 percent, a second round will occur in April 2012. However, five candidates from the opposition are alleging widespread fraud and have pledged to challenge the results.
Guinea-Bissau follows a nonaligned foreign policy and seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and organizations. Angola, Cuba, the European Union, France, The Gambia, Portugal, Brazil, Mauritania, Nigeria, People's Republic of China, Libya, Senegal, Spain, Guinea, and Russia have embassies in Bissau. Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. conduct diplomatic relations with Guinea-Bissau through their embassies in neighboring Dakar, Senegal.
Guinea-Bissau is a member of the UN and many of its specialized and related agencies. It is a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF); African Development Bank (AFDB), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), African Union, and permanent Interstate Committee for drought control in the Sahel (CILSS). Guinea-Bissau also is a member of the Group of 77 (G-77), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Health Organization (WHO).
Sources:CIA World Factbook (March 2012)
U.S. Dept. of State Country Background Notes ( March 2012)