Country Risk

Postponement of 2018 legislative elections in Guinea-Bissau increases protests risks despite extension of ECOWAS peacekeeping mission

31 October 2018

Guinea-Bissau’s president, José Mário Vaz (centre), meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not shown) in Beijing on 5 September. A bitter dispute within Vaz’s ruling party is causing policy paralysis. Source: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Key Points

  • The postponement of the legislative elections is likely to further aggravate Guinea-Bissau's political stalemate, delaying major policy changes, especially bills before parliament, due to the lack of consensus.
  • The extension of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinee-Bissau (ECOMIB) for another nine months until September 2019 significantly reduces coup d'état risks in the six-month outlook, while strengthening President José Mário Vaz's hand to not offer concessions to the political opposition.
  • More frequent opposition-led protest marches and violent civil-society protests demanding transparency on the voters' registration exercise, involving thousands, are highly likely to grow in intensity and scope in central Bissau and surrounding cities in the run-up to the legislative elections.


Guinea-Bissau's National Elections Commission on 26 October announced the postponement of the overdue 18 November legislative elections to 27 January 2019. Media reports indicate only about 230,000 people, representing 25% of the estimated 900,000 voters, have been registered.

The postponement of Guinea-Bissau's legislative elections follows a National Elections Commission (Comissão Nacional de Eleições: CNE) press conference on 7 September at which the CNE stated that it would be unable to complete the registration of eligible voters by the 30 October constitutional deadline, adding further uncertainty to the country's three-year political crisis. Despite legal provisions mandating the CNE to complete voters' registration 30 days prior to the elections, the body has been unable to do so due to delays in the release of funding from the government and donor partners, including the late arrival of biometric voter kits. Preparations for the elections have also been hampered by disagreements between the CNE, the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde: PAIGC), and opposition parties, including the second-largest party in parliament, the Party for Social Renewal (Partido da Renovação Social: PRS), on a timeline for electoral reforms.

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