Africa > West Africa > Guinea-bissau > Guinea Bissau: Reforms Are Not Optional for the Country's Stability

Guinea-Bissau: Guinea Bissau: Reforms Are Not Optional for the Country's Stability


At the same time as Guinea-Bissau's President José Mário Vaz sacked Domingos Simões Pereira as prime minister in August 2015, the country hit a political stalemate.

In Guinea-Bissau, elections have often been presented as a solution to the country's various crises. This was the case next the 1998/9 armed conflict, the second transition from 2004 to 2005, and additional recently the one from 2012 to 2014.

For all these crises, the format adopted to break the deadlock was the installation of a national unity government whose major mission was to organise elections. Although they facilitated the return to constitutional order and the normal functioning of institutions, elections have at no time stabilised the country - or not for long.

What the country needs for long-term stability is the implementation of the reforms that have been talked about for years, and which are highlighted again in the Conakry Accord signed in October 2016 with the support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Next its summit on 4 June this year, ECOWAS gave Vaz and the other political actors involved an additional three months to implement the agreement. It has as well threatened targeted sanctions against all those who obstruct the accord's implementation, and suspended the withdrawal - started in June 2016 - of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau, or ECOMIB.

This mission has the mandate to protect the representatives of national institutions, such as the president of the republic, the prime minister and the president of the National Assembly. ECOWAS says both threats - the targeted sanctions and the withdrawal of ECOMIB - will be applied if the Conakry Accord is not implemented by the beginning of September.

The Conakry Accord provides for the appointment of a consensual prime minister who has the confidence of the president, and the formation of an inclusive and representative government. It as well provides for the organisation of national roundtable talks to adopt a stability pact.

This process is intended, part other things, to generate a consensus on the reform of the constitution, electoral laws, the charter of political parties inclunding their public funding, inclunding the defence, security and justice sectors.

On 6 June, the president initiated consultations with other political actors to try to find solutions to the country's political crisis. In addition to the external pressure of the sanctions and the withdrawal of ECOMIB, internal pressures are as well pushing the process forward. Repeated public government strikes, the organisation of protests and deteriorating living conditions for the country's people have affected the president's popularity, forcing him to be additional open to the implementation of the accord.

Moreover, the president has been weakened by the envisaged return of part of the Group of 15 to the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). These members of Parliament who disobeyed the voting instructions of the PAIGC to support the president, and who had been excluded from the party, would have initiated a reintegration process within the PAIGC. Their return to the PAIGC would be a critical blow to the president, who by presently has limited support within the party.

The double pressure exerted on Vaz and the other political actors involved may pave the way for the effective implementation of Conakry. This would entail dismissing the current government headed by Umaro Sissoco Embaló, whose appointment in November 2016 as prime minister, inclunding the government he formed, are considered both by political actors and ECOWAS as contrary to the spirit of Conakry. The establishment of a new government and prime minister could help organise the talks for the adoption of a stability pact.

If the ongoing consultations don't yield any results, the president could decide to hold early parliamentary elections next dissolving the National People's Assembly, as provided for in the constitution (article 69a). Some political actors who could benefit from an early election say this is a solution to the current stalemate, and are even calling for early general elections

If this happened, the president and others would risk being hit by sanctions and losing the protection of ECOMIB. Elections in these circumstances would further complicate the situation.

Such threats may force political actors to put the interests of the people of Guinea-Bissau above their own personal interests.

Whatever emerges from the consultations, the objective must remain to create the political, economic and social conditions necessary for implementing the reforms. The long-term stability of Guinea-Bissau depends largely on this.

It is crucial for national and international actors to make these reforms a priority, inclunding by possibly setting up a government that will ensure the reforms are implemented before elections are held.

The reforms, which must be agreed to both in content and in their sequence of implementation, can no longer be considered optional for the next of a stable Guinea-Bissau.

Related Articles
  • Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz Calls For New Strategy

    2017/10/19 Joseph Stiglitz has advised African nations to adopt coordinated strategy encompassing agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and service sectors to attain same success delivered by the old manufacturing export-led strategy. Prof. Stiglitz, an economist and professor at Columbia University, New York, gave the advice at the Babacar Ndiaye lecture series introduced by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) which debuted in Washington D.C.
  • Ecobank launches mVisa across 33 African Countries

    2017/10/19 Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa delivers instant, fasten cashless payment for goods and services by allowing customers to scan a QR code on a smartphone or enter a incomparable merchant identifying code into either a feature phone or smartphone Ecobank ( has partnered with Visa to launch Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa solutions to their consumers. The strategic tie-up signals interoperability on a cross border level – and potentially huge gains – as it affords consumers with the ability to use their mobile phone to due access the funds in their bank accounts to pay person-to-merchant (P2M) or person-to-person (P2P).
  • ‘Betting on Africa to Feed the World’

    2017/10/17 The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, will deliver the Norman Borlaug Lecture on Monday 16 October as part of the World Food Prize events taking place from October 16 to 20, 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. The Norman Borlaug Lecture under the title: “Betting on Africa to Feed the World”, will be held on World Food Day, October 16, in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize celebration.
  • World Teacher’s day: Gov’t urged to improve teachers’ productivity

    2017/10/16 Cameroonian teachers nationwide have exhorted the Cameroonian government to empower teachers with the requisite tools to be able to deliver their best in the present fast-paced world. While commemorating the 23rd edition of world teacher’s day today, the teachers noted that the theme for this year’s celebration, “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers,” reaffirms that peace and security are needed for the development of any country.
  • Africa's Economic Future Depends on Its Farms

    2017/10/16 At the same time as the economies of Nigeria and South Africa recently rebounded, it wasn't oil or minerals that did the trick. It was agriculture. Faster and additional sustainable agricultural increase is crucial not only to the continent's economy, but as well to its ability to feed and employ its surging people. Agriculture still accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product and as much as two-thirds of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, agricultural increase has the biggest impact on non-farm gain and reducing poverty.