Finally: Elections in April 2014

Guinea-Bissau just announced to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 13 April in an effort to end a period of political instability, which began with a _coup d’etat_ almost two years ago. The date had already been announced by military chiefs from the Ecowas bloc of west African nations at a meeting in Bissau on Wednesday but a presidential decree seen by AFP represented the first official confirmation. “The general election in Guinea-Bissau will take place on April 13 2014,” it said.

Soumaila Bakayoko, chairperson of the Ecowas Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff, told reporters on Wednesday the bloc would send extra troops to bolster its current deployment of 750 “to ensure security for all during the elections to be held on 13 April”. The transitional government installed after a coup in April 2012 had decreed that presidential and legislative elections would take place on March 16. The vote was originally due to take place within a year of Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior’s regime being overthrown but it has been postponed several times.

Guinea-Bissau, which gained independence from Portugal in 1974 after a war with its colonial master lasting more than a decade, has suffered intermittent unrest since its liberation. The chronic volatility has fanned poverty in the country of 1.6 million people with few resources other than cashew nuts and fish, attracting South American drug cartels which have turned it into a hub of cocaine-trafficking for West Africa. It has seen a series of military coups attributed largely to the unprecedented bloating of the army after the war.

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