Guinea Bissau. Guinea-Bissau in February became the third country to
be granted special support from the UN Peace-building
Commission, whose task is to help rebuild society after a
conflict and to prevent new outbreaks.
In recent years, Guinea-Bissau, along with several other West
African countries, has begun to be used as a transit port
for the smuggling of drugs between Latin America and Europe.
According to UN estimates, about 50 tonnes of cocaine cross
the region in one year. In 2008 there were reports of
increasing drug use in the country. There was also a concern
that organized crime would take root in G. The prosecutor
said in July that he had been subjected to death threats in
connection with an investigation into a large drug seizure.
Earlier, there were suspicions that high-ranking soldiers
were involved in the operation.
Countryaah reports, the unity government that was set up in March 2007 burst
in July when one of the three parties, the African
Independence Party of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC),
left the cooperation. The resignation was due to domestic
media that Prime Minister Martinho Ndafa Kabi had prevented
PAIGC members from getting high posts in the administration.
President Joăo Bernardo Vieira dissolved the National
Assembly in early August and at the same time replaced Kabi
with Carlos Correia. Later that month, former naval chief
José Américo Bubo Na Tchuto was accused of planning a coup
against President Vieira. Na Tchuto fled to Gambia, where he
was arrested and placed under house arrest. He denied any
involvement in any coup plans.
The parliamentary elections, which were held as planned
on November 16, gathered around twenty parties and could be
conducted under peaceful conditions. It was also approved by
international observers. The clear winner was PAIGC, which
received 67 of the 100 seats in Parliament. There was hope
for a more stable political development in the country, but
opposition leader Kumba Ialá of the Social Renewal Party
(PRS) claimed that there was electoral fraud. During the
election campaign he had accused Vieira of being involved in
the cocaine trade.
On November 23, two days after the official election
results were presented, a group of soldiers attacked
President Vieira's residence. One member of the presidential
guard was killed during the fighting, but the president
managed unscathed in what government officials described as
a failed coup attempt. At least five people were arrested
and Senegal sent troops to the border area. It was
speculated whether soldiers who opposed a defense reform had
planned the attack. The reform would halve the armed forces.
The assailants were believed to come from the Balante
people, who have a dominant role in the army. Of the
country's approximately 4,800 soldiers, 3,000 were reported
to be officers, a large proportion of whom were promoted
under the Iala administration in 2000–03. Almost a third of
the state budget goes to the defense, but in August many
soldiers had not been paid for months. Other public servants
also found it difficult to get their salaries.
On December 30, President Vieira Carlos Gomes Júnior from
PAIGC appointed new Prime Minister.
During the year, the country was affected by a cholera
epidemic that had claimed over 220 lives by the end of
November, and more than 10,000 people had been infected. The
worst hit was the area around the capital Bissau and Biombo
in the western part of the country.