BISSAU, Guinea Bissau (AP) — A coalition of opposition groups won a majority of seats in Guinea Bissau’s parliament, beating the ruling party in the country’s first legislative elections since the president dissolved the National People’s Assembly more than a year ago, according to results announced Thursday.
The results from the weekend vote were announced by the national electoral committee, which said the five-party Terra Ranka coalition won 54 of parliament’s 102 seats. The ruling party, MADEM G-15, placed second with 29 seats.
In the previous parliament, the main opposition party, The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), held the majority. It is now part of the coalition along with main opposition party PAIGC.
Guinea-Bissau is a small nation that gained independence from Portugal nearly five decades ago. The country has endured continued political turmoil, including multiple coups, since then.
President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, a former army general, took office in February 2020 after he was declared the winner of a runoff election. He survived a coup attempt two years later when assailants armed with machine guns and AK-47s attacked the government palace.
Embalo has consolidated his grip on power since his controversial inauguration. He’s cracked down on civic freedoms, while government bodies have lost significant independence, according to analysts. He dissolved parliament in May 2022 and postponed the legislative elections originally scheduled for the following December.
While there were concerns of unrest if MADEM G-15 did not secure a majority in Sunday’s election, the capital appeared calm as people celebrating on the streets Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference after the results were announced, the ruling party’s president, Braima Camara, said he called the opposition to offer congratulations. “The people elected me to be in opposition and we are going to be in opposition to do our job,” Camara said.
The head of Terra Ranka, Domingos Simoes Pereira, said the win meant the coalition parties now had a huge responsibility on their shoulders.
The results could be good for democracy and might provide some stability, according to analysts.
“This significantly strengthens the hand of the opposition coalition and leaves the ruling party weakened,” said Lucia Bird Ruiz Benitez de Lugo, director of the West Africa Observatory at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
The big question now is who will be appointed prime minister and how it will impact the government going forward, she said.