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Guinea-Bissau’s historic ruling party won legislative elections but will have to rely on a deal with smaller parties to command a majority, according to results published Wednesday by the election board.
The outcome may plunge the poor, volatile West African state into a new round of confrontation between the PAIGC party and President Jose Mario Vaz, said analysts.
The PAIGC — the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde — won 47 out of 102 seats, harvesting 46.1 percent of the vote, the National Election Commission said, giving provisional results.
Two opposition parties have a combined tally of 48 seats, according to the results.
“The vote took place in a peaceful atmosphere. So far there has been no challenge,” the panel’s chairman, Pedro Sambu, said.
Hundreds of jubilant PAIGC supporters converged on the party’s headquarters after the announcement, chanting and banging drums and saucepans, as cars sounded their horns.
On Tuesday, the party forged an agreement on supporting a PAIGC-led government with parties which hold seven seats.
The one-time Marxist PAIGC has run the state of two million people for most of the 45 years since independence from Portugal.
Sunday’s vote aimed to settle a nearly four-year-old crisis that erupted after Vaz sacked his prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira.
Pereira was head of the PAIGC and Vaz himself emerged from party ranks.
Vaz appointed a series of prime ministers but none garnered sufficient support to achieve a parliamentary majority.
Parliamentary work was snarled for two years — a situation that sparked frequent strikes by civil servants who went unpaid because of holdups in approving the budget.
In April 2018, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) brokered an agreement leading to the designation of a consensus prime minister, Aristide Gomes, and the resumption of work by parliament.
Gomes was given the caretaker role of preparing for fresh legislative polls.
The vote had been scheduled to take place on November 18 but was postponed to March 10 mainly for technical reasons.
The new assembly, which will play a key role in choosing the prime minister, will enable Nuno Gomes Nabiam, head of the five-seat APU-PDGB party, to play the role of kingmaker.
He was beaten by Vaz in the second round of presidential elections in 2014. Vaz’s five-year term ends on June 23.
The other parties in the assembly are the Madem-G15, led by dissident PAIGC members, which picked up 27 seats, and the Party for Social Renovation (PRS), reputed to be close to part of the military hierarchy, which won 21 seats.
The Madem-G15 and the PRS concluded their own eve-of-election deal, which means they could constitute a powerful opposition of 48 MPs.
The outcome of the election may confirm fears that gridlock may flare again, say commentators.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had warning precisely of that risk, saying in the runup to the vote: “Nothing suggests that these elections will make it possible to resolve the problems undermining the country.”
He pointed to the option of a future revision of the constitution to clarify the roles between the president and prime minister, both of whom wield executive power.
Coups and cocaine
An impoverished country wedged between Senegal and Guinea on Africa’s west coast, Guinea-Bissau has a notorious reputation for volatility.
It has seen 16 coup attempts since independence, four of which have been successful.
International sanctions remain in place since 2012 after the last violent seizure of power.
The country’s porous coastline and chronic instability have made it a target for Latin American drug lords trafficking cocaine to Europe, implicating members of the elite.
As voting unfolded on Sunday, police in the capital Bissau said they had found nearly 800 kilogrammes (1,700 pounds) of cocaine in a Senegal-registered truck, the country’s biggest drugs haul in a decade.
Four suspects — two Nigerians, one Senegalese and one Bissau-Guinean — were arrested, and investigators are probing whether army officers or high-ranking officials were involved, a police source said.Source: AFP