Observers from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS on Monday said Guinea-Bissau’s weekend election was free and fair, and called on international donors to restart cooperation suspended in the wake of a 2012 coup. Bissau-Guineans flocked to the polls in large numbers on Sunday to vote in long-delayed legislative and presidential polls meant to bring stability to the former Portuguese colony after years of putsches and political infighting. No elected president has completed a five-year term in Guinea-Bissau, which has become a major transit point for smugglers ferrying Latin American cocaine to Europe. “The election was conducted according to international standards and the election was peaceful, free, fair and transparent,” the ECOWAS observer mission said in a statement.
The mission noted a few isolated problems in certain areas, including a shortage of ballot papers and an attack by the national guard on some supporters of one candidate, but said these did not impair the overall conduct of the election.
The last election in 2012 was aborted when troops under army chief Antonio Indjai stormed the presidential palace days before a presidential second-round vote was due to take place, plunging the country into chaos.
Many in Bissau hope a successful transition to democracy can unlock donor funding for one of the world’s poorest countries, including 110 million euros in European Union aid frozen after a 2011 military uprising.