Voter registration under way in Guinea-Bissau

The registration process is underway in Guinea-Bissau, despite the difficulties. With about 150 teams on the ground, the Electoral Process Support Office (GTAPE) has already managed to register more than 30,000 voters.

5 Oct 2018

Voter registration under way in Guinea-Bissau

This week the Angolan government also transferred another US $ 1 million to the electoral support fund. However, Guineans continue to doubt whether the elections will take place on 18 November.

In April 2018, President José Mário Vaz marked the holding of legislative elections on November 18 at an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of state and government, where he also announced the appointment of Aristides Gomes as prime minister. These decisions were followed by the reopening of Parliament, to extend the legislature and appoint the electoral commission.

Also at the end of April, the Government of Guinea-Bissau and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed a project to support the 2018-2019 electoral cycle associated with which a financial fund was created. The Government, UNDP, ECOWAS, West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and Angola have already transferred funds to this fund.

After several rounds of consultations with political parties in July, the National Elections Commission prepared an electoral calendar that determined that voter registration should take place from 23 August to 23 September. However, the type of voter registration chosen - printing the cards on site and registering 10 fingerprints - and other technical and administrative challenges, made it difficult to start voter registration.

The census began only on September 20, with 150 registration kits shipped from Nigeria. PR José Mário Vaz and PM Aristides Gomes were the first to register on Thursday.

However, doubts remain that by November 18, GTAPE will be able to register the 900,000 voters. According to the Minister of Territorial Administration, since the beginning of the process, on September 20, about 30, 000 voters were registered.

The main political leaders, Government and President of the Republic continue to appeal to citizens to register and all guarantee to be committed to holding the elections. There are also meetings between the government, political parties and the bodies responsible for the electoral process – National Electoral Commission (CNE) and GETAPE - to analyze the progress of the process and see if there is a need for adjustments.

In Bafatá, "Maimuna, a young woman, says that maybe it was better to postpone the elections, because it is necessary that the census is well done and that everyone can register".

Aliu Mané, in the northern region of Cachéu, also prefers that the date of the ballot be postponed allowing voters to register in the best of conditions. "I have not yet registered myself because the table has not yet come near here."

Bacar Sanha in Bissau has already been registered and appeals to all his fellow citizens to "be tolerant, and that they will be registered so that we can go to elections and take the country out of this crisis."

Malam Djassi, UNDP program analyst and project manager, explained that more kits were being recovered than had been donated by Timor-Leste and that Nigeria has promised to send more kits. Djassi says he recognizes "the great effort that GTAPE is making despite little number of kits at its disposal."

As for financing, Malam Djassi, said that the basket fund already has 5 million dollars, but only 3 are immediately available, since the documents of the other two million have already been signed, but the money has not yet entered the fund. This week the Government of Angola signed an agreement with UNDP and transferred another 1 million dollars.

The president of the CNE, José Pedro Sambú, considered the contribution of Angola as "an important step to organize the elections". "The country does not have the financial means, now this support from Angola will allow us to create the technical and financial conditions to organize the elections," said the president of the National Election Commission.