Guinea-Bissau gained independence from Portugal in 1974. Since then its politics has proved tumultuous. A short but devastating conflict broke out in 1998, killing thousands and dividing the army between followers of President Nino Vieira and the Junta Militar headed by Brigadeiro Ansumane Mane.
With the end of the war and the victory of the Junta, political instability became structural and poverty worsened. This encouraged illicit activities including drug trafficking and international crime. None of the problems at the heart of the conflict were fixed, and a political culture of patronage and corruption.
In this context, military interventions into politics and coups d’état were commonplace from 1999 to 2012. Clashes between the army and separatists in the Casamance region of neighbouring Senegal highlight the regional dimension of Guinean affairs.
In 2014, Jose Mario Vaz won the presidential election. There was tentative hope that a new cycle of democratic stability would be instsalled. The EU’s 2015 ten-year development plan and Guinea-Bissau being named the most-improved country in the Global Peace Index rankings mean this hope continues.
However, in 2015, President Vaz sacked his Prime Minister after months of disagreements. This provoked widespread protests, and a rupture in the relationship between the President and the parliament.
Since then, not a single legislative act has been adopted.
The high-level mediation of ECOWAS to agree on a new government has failed, and political crisis has paralysed the country. Citizens are frustrated, and the international community is faced with the prospect of having to reconsider its financial and political support.
Given the risk, the UN has extended the mandate of its Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the country.
Last updated: September 2017