- Guinea-Bissau has for a decade been plagued with political instability and disruption, but the confirmed sweeping election victory of the PAIGC party is causing optimism in the country and abroad that stability may finally be assured.
The national election commission of Guinea-Bissau has now confirmed that PAIGC, the country's formerly dominant party, has won a big majority at the parliamentary polls held on Sunday. The commission says that PAIGC will take 64 out of the Bissau parliament's 100 seats, thus assuring a two-thirds majority.
For both the Bissau population and the international community, this clear victory of the now democratic PAIGC party comes as a great relief. During the last decade, PAIGC has mostly been a minority party in parliament, being inside or outside short-lived coalitions supporting or working against the presidency. This resulted in unstable government alliances and conflicts between parliament and the presidency, some of which ended up in armed struggles and coups.
Since the 2005 presidential elections, which brought back ex-Dictator, now democrat, João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira to power, narrowly beating the PAIGC candidate, short-lived governments have ruled Guinea-Bissau. PAIGC, which since the 2004 parliamentary polls held 45 out of 100 parliament seats, has been in opposition to President Vieira, but shifting alliances have given either the party or the President the upper hand in the power struggle to name a government. The result has been very short-lived Bissau governments.
With such a clear PAIGC majority in parliament, the party is strong enough to name a stable government and see to that it remains in power, without having to respect the wishes of President Vieira.
Also the international community - which has seen its efforts to promote Guinea-Bissau's development frustrated by political instability - shows signs of relief by the PAIGC's clear victory. PAIGC, formerly a communist party, has even been congratulated for its victory by the US government.
But most of all, the international community is relieved by the fact that the Guinea-Bissau elections went peacefully and orderly and were declared free and fair by credible election observers. The UN Security Council in a statement expressed its "appreciation for the dedicated efforts of the National Electoral Commission in organising these elections," and urged political parties and leaders of Guinea-Bissau "to respect the results of the elections and to resolve any related concerns through peaceful means, respecting the rule of law."
The US State Department congratulated the Bissau government and people of on their "successful" elections. "The voters' example should serve as an encouragement for democracies throughout Africa and around the world," Washington added in a statement, adding that US observers had been among those witnessing the election to be "transparent, well-organised, and well-executed."
Also neighbours and old friends were relieved by the electoral success. The West African regional body ECOWAS - which has seen the disturbing effects in neighbouring countries each time unrests had broken out in Guinea-Bissau - also extended its congratulations. As did fellow Portuguese speaking countries, led by Cape Verde and Portugal, which have the deepest ties to Guinea-Bissau.
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