‘New chapter’ dawns for democracy in Guinea-Bissau

‘New chapter’ dawns for democracy in Guinea-Bissau

Agency News

United Nations, Mar 11: The UN’s Deputy Special Representative in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau, has congratulated politicians, voters and officials across the country for the peaceful conduct of national assembly elections, Preliminary results are expected to be announced on Monday night.

Speaking to UN News in the capital Bissau, David McLachlan-Karr called it “a very positive result for the people” adding that that “people have come out to vote in large numbers, voted peacefully. There have been no reports of major security incidents around the country.”

The United Nations, as expressed in a recent Secretary-General’s report published in February and a Security Council resolution approved last week, has high hopes that this vote will help to end the political crisis that has rocked the country since 2015.

That year, then President José Mário Vaz, dissolved the government of Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira, whose party had won a majority in the 2014 elections. Since then, there have been seven different heads of government.

On Sunday, the Deputy Special Representative described the day as “a new chapter in the country’s democratic history. It will pave the way for the formation of a new government, and for the creation, we hope, of the right conditions for reform and for democratization, peacebuilding, and stabilisation in the future.”

Preliminary results are expected on Monday night, and the official tally should be announced on Wednesday. The party that gains a majority of the seats will be invited to form a government, according to political convention.

Last month, the Security Council approved a resolution which will see the closure of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, UNIOGBIS, by the end of 2020. Mr McLachlan-Karr said that, for the next two years, he hopes “the United Nations Mission will continue to lead good offices to ensure there is a stabilisation and peace building agenda” and that it “will continue to work with the new government, continue to work with civil society and other agencies to ensure that a series of necessary reforms takes place.”

At a press conference held as polls closed on Sunday, a spokesperson for the National Election Commission (CNE) said the voting had happened in a “calm, very serene” way with “acceptable” turnout, even though final results will not be known for some days.
Early in the morning, inside some of the capital’s hotels, more than 130 international observers started being dispatched to every one of the eight regions of the country of 1.9 million people. There were 21 parties running, the biggest number in the country’s history.

Currently, only five parties have seats in the Assembly. Throughout the day, the election was monitored in various parts of the capital by various organisations, including civil society groups.

One of the key national concerns prior to the vote is centered on electoral lists. In recent weeks, there had been some controversy over voters missing from official registers, despite having voter identification.

Last week, CNE, with the approval of every party, decided they wouldn’t be allowed to vote. On Sunday, the Commission said only around 2 per cent of voters were effected. (UNI)