The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. West Africa
  4. Guinea-Bissau

Key political events since independence

[Guinea-Bissau] Presidential candidate and former military ruler Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira campaigning in downtown Bissau on June 17 2005 for Guinea-Bissau's June 19 presidential election.
Presidential candidate and former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira (Pierre Holtz/IRIN)

Below is a timeline of major political events since the formation of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) in 1956.

1 April 2010

Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior is arrested briefly by army deputy-chief, Gen Antonio Injai; while Adml José Zamora Induta, army chief-of-staff of the army is arrested by a group of soldiers supporting Injai

Former navy Rear Adml José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto, previously exiled in Gambia following an August 2008 failed coup attempt to oust then-President João Bernardo Vieira, is freed from the UN premises where he had sought asylum

1 January 2010

New UN Integrated Peace Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) is established

28-29 December 2010

Tchuto seeks asylum in UN building following cabinet decision to take him to court for a coup attempt, desertion from the army, and an assassination attempt against former President Vieira

September 2009

President Malam Bacai Sanha is sworn into office

July 2009

Malam Bacai Sanha elected president

June 2009

Three senior politicians are killed by military police in what the authorities call a foiled coup attempt

March 2009

President João Bernardo Vieira is shot dead by soldiers several hours after a bomb attack kills army chief-of-staff Gen Tagme Na Waie

July 2008

The PAIGC political party leaves the “Pact of Stability” coalition government

April 2008

The mandate of the legislature ended on 21 April but President Vieira passes a temporary constitutional amendment to allow the continuation of parliament until elections take place later in the year. The President also grants amnesty to individuals in the military and civilians who allegedly committed crimes from 1980 to 2004

March 2008

Legislative elections are postponed

July 2007

A tribunal declares a resolution making former Guinea-Bissau President Koumba Yala the head of Social Renovation Party (PRS) "null and void"

February 2008

The PAIGC withdraws backing from Prime Minister Martinho Ndafa Cabi, ostensibly to avoid acts of indiscipline threatening cohesion and unity in the party

March 2007

Parliamentarians form a majority coalition and the three major parties, the PAIGC, Party for Social Reform (PRS) and the United Social Democrat Party (PUSD) sign a “pact of stability”. The pact gives them the right to force the departure of Prime Minister Aristides Gomes who was nominated by Vieira after the sacking of Carlos Junior, and to vote in a new prime minister, Marthinho Ndafa Cabi. Donors welcome the pact and start to re-engage in the country after a period of relative isolation

January 2007

Adml Mohamed Lamine Sanha, chief-of-staff of the navy, is killed. Sanha, an ally of Ansumane Mané who led a military rebellion against President Vieira in the 1998 civil war, was implicated in several coups against the government

November 2006

Koumba Yala is elected head of the PRS

November 2005

President Vieira appoints Aristides Gomes, former PAIGC deputy chairman, as prime minister

October 2005

President Vieira sacks PAIGC Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior who was nominated by the assembly, citing “personal reasons”. After announcing on the radio that the president ordered the assassination of old members of the military junta that deposed him in 1999, Junior flees to the offices of the UN Peacebuilding Office until President Vieira can guarantee him his security


Joao Bernardo Vieira returns from exile in Portugal to participate in presidential elections, with financial backing from Guinea-Conakry and Senegal and support from the military. In the June elections Malam Bacai Sanha of the PAIGC presents himself as a candidate running against Koumba Yala and for the first time against Joao Vieira who participates as an independent candidate. Bacai receives the largest number of votes but not enough to avoid a second round. Yala, who came third in the first round, goes on to support Vieira and Vieira becomes president for the second time. International observers deem the elections fair and transparent. The military, under chief-of-staff Tagme Na Wai, ensures President Vieira understands they are a powerful political force and that Vieira requires their support to retain his hold

October 2004

A group of soldiers led by Baoute Yanta Na Man attempt a failed coup. Gen Seabra, now chief of staff of the army, is killed by a group of military rebels who are protesting against salary arrears and the corruption of the military hierarchy, and Gen Tagme Na Wai, an ethnic Balante, is appointed in his place

March 2004

Legislative elections are held as planned and the PAIGC retakes most parliamentary seats. A new government is formed under the leadership of Carlos Gomes Junior as prime minister

September 2003

A military coup led by Gen Verissimo Correia Seabra ousts President Yala, a move that is welcomed by the population. A transition government is put in place to prepare for elections and in the interim Henrique Rosa is appointed president, and Artur Sanha, once secretary-general of the PRS, is nominated prime minister


President Koumba Yala dissolves parliament and calls for legislative elections but these do not take place and the country remains without a government for several months. Supreme Court judges are also sacked


President Yala's rule is characterized by chronic political instability as he constantly sacks ministers and reshuffles his government. Between 2001 and 2003 four prime ministers are nominated and sacked. Political crisis sets in. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank suspend aid due to poor financial accounting by government


Gen Anusmane Mané, a well-supported figure in the army, does not take up posts offered to him under President Yala's government, including adviser to the head-of-state, preferring to stay independent. In November he is killed by Koumba Yala's men

January 2000

Presidential elections are held between Koumba Yala of the PRS and Malam Bacai Sanha of the PAIGC, a fierce opponent of Vieira. Yala wins with 72 percent of the votes and his victory is seen as progress for the Balante ethnic group as he is the first Balante to lead the country. Yala goes on to appoint many Balante in positions of power. Under his rule many members of the armed forces are promoted to become generals

November 1999

The transitional government organizes elections in which the PAIGC loses its control over the National Assembly for the first time. The PRS party under Koumba Yala receives 38 seats and becomes the dominant party in the assembly 


Remnants of the 1998-1999 war
[Guinea-Bissau] Remnants of Guinea-Bissau's 1998-1999 war...
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Nino Vieira says he will contest presidential election
[Guinea-Bissau] Remnants of Guinea-Bissau's 1998-1999 war...

Photo: IRIN
Remnants of Guinea-Bissau's 1998-1999 civil war.


A military junta takes control of Bissau, the capital, and President Vieira seeks asylum in Portugal. Malai Bacam Sanha of the PAIGC party becomes president in May 1999


Vieira sacks army chief of staff, Gen Ansumane Mané, leading to an army mutiny. A military junta led by Mané starts a civil war


The first free elections are held electing João Bernardo Vieira as president. From this point on the PAIGC dominates politics until the present day


Koumba Yala founds the PRS


Luis Cabral is ousted in military coup orchestrated by Joao Bernardo Vieira


Portugal grants Guinea-Bissau independence with Luis Cabral, brother of Amilcar, as president


PAIGC declares Guinea-Bissau independent of Portugal. Amilcar Cabral assassinated


PAIGC launches war of independence


Amilcar Cabral establishes the PAIGC


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.