Guinea-Bissau: Embaló wins presidential election
Guinea-Bissau, the second-smallest West African country, home to nearly 2 million people, will start 2020 with a new president. Citizens hope that the election will end several decades of political instability in the country. Úmaro Sissoco Embaló, one of the seven prime ministers who served under outgoing President José Mário Vaz (2016-18), won the run-off election on 29 December 2019 with 54% of the vote. His rival, Domingos Simões Pereira, head of the ruling PAIGC party, denounced the results and suggested there had been electoral fraud. He plans to contest the results and take it up with the Supreme Court. ECOWAS deployed some 70 observers to monitor the elections. UNOWAS commended the “successful conduct of the polls and the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed throughout the electoral process.” Embaló’s election marks the first peaceful transition of power since independence and is a big milestone in the country’s journey towards democracy. The former Portuguese colony has suffered four coups and 14 attempted coups since independence in 1974. After the most recent coup in 2012, ECOWAS deployed a 700-member force to stabilise the country. Incumbent President José Mário Vaz was the first president to finish his term without being either deposed or assassinated. He dropped out of the electoral contest after the first round in November 2019. Opposition leader Embaló, who recently founded the Movement for Alternative Democracy (MADEM G-15), presented himself as a “unifier.” Gathering only 27% of votes during the first round, Embaló successfully gained the support of former candidates, including outgoing President Vaz. Embaló promised to modernise the country, and will need to fight against drug trafficking and corruption in the country.