Guinea-Bissau Elects a New Parliament

Voting was peaceful and turnout high in Guinea-Bissau Sunday, where voters cast ballots for a new parliament with hopes of ending years of political turmoil.

“No one has been killed, no fights, no coup, without random arrests and without political prisoners,” President Jose Mario Vaz was happy to say. “Instead, there is freedom of expression and the right to assemble. I think that Guinea-Bissau is a champion for freedom.”

Voters chose from a field of candidates from the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cap Verde (PAIGC), and 20 opposition parties.

Final results are expected later this week.

The impoverished West African nation has watched a series of Vaz-appointed prime ministers come and go over the past four years because none were able to gain enough support in the divided parliament.

A group of West African states worked out a deal last year in which Aristede Gomes would serve as interim prime minister until new elections were held.

Guinea-Bissau has been wracked by numerous coups since declaring independence from Portugal in 1973.

Its economy, heavily dependent on its cashew crop, has been in shambles, in part, because of the lack of political stability.

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