The electoral census in Guinea-Bissau for the legislative elections – on 18 November – and the presidential elections – in 2019 – finally began on Thursday almost a month late.
The parliamentary elections should resolve the political crisis that the country has been going through since the dismissal in August 2015 by the head of state of its Prime Minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, leader of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), to which Mr. Vaz also belongs.
The President of Guinea-Bissau was the first to register, during a ceremony attended by the diplomatic corps, in which the representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), mediator in this crisis, Blaise Diplo, participated.
We have committed to organize the legislative elections on November 18. This remains valid despite the delay in starting the census
“We have committed to organize the legislative elections on November 18. This remains valid despite the delay in starting the census,” Mr. Vaz, in his light blue Saharan shirt, waving his new card, assured.
“I appeal to all my compatriots, wherever they are and whatever they do, to take only five minutes of their time and go register and collect their cards,” he added.
“My mission is not fully accomplished. However, this is a very important phase for the holding of elections” on 18 November, said Prime Minister Aristide Gomes.
According to the Ministry of Territorial Administration, the census aims to register nearly one million voters, out of a population of about 1.7 million.
The census, which was scheduled to begin on 23 August and last one month, was postponed due to delays in the delivery of electronic equipment from Nigeria, which has only arrived in recent days.
According to constitutionalist Victor Vamain, these delays have definitively compromised compliance with the provision of the Basic Law that legislative elections should be held 60 days after the end of the census.
The training of census agents has not yet begun, according to the AFP correspondent. In addition, the heavy rains that are falling in the country during this period make several tracks impassable, isolating certain regions of the country.
A new agreement to end the crisis was reached at the extraordinary ECOWAS summit on 14 April in Lomé.
This agreement led to the appointment of a consensus Prime Minister, responsible for leading the country to the legislative elections, and to the resumption of the work of Parliament, which met on 19 April for the first time in two years.