Powersharing Transitional Government: Abuja Peace Agreement

ABUJA PEACE AGREEMENT

4. To immediately put in place a government of national unity, which will include, among other things, representatives of the self-proclaimed junta, in line with the agreement already reached by the parties.

Implementation History

1998

Intermediate Implementation

The Abuja Peace Agreement, signed on 1 November 1998, provided for the establishment of a national unity government. Immediately after the signing of the accord, the acting foreign minister declared that the national unity government would include representatives from the military junta. The rebel leaders were given the option to join the government after leaving active duty or to recommend representatives from civil society.1 On November 16, the president started his consultations with various political parties on the peace accord’s provision of establishing a unity government.2 

On 4 December 1998, President João Bernardo Vieira officially appointed Francisco Fadul, an advisor to the rebel leader Gen. Mame, as the country’s new prime minister.3 However, in December Fadul was quoted as saying that he would not allow his new government to be sworn in until all foreign troops who had supported Vieira against rebel leader Gen. Ansumane Mane had left the country.4 After the presidential appointment of Fadul, the rebels and the government signed a Final Communiqué of the Lome Meeting on the Peace Process in Bissau on 15 December 1998 that created the structure of the unity government and the distribution of positions between the government and the rebels.

According to the communiqué, the following ministries were allocated to the president and his loyalists:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Ministry of Justice and Labour
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources
Ministry of Education, Youth, Culture and Sports
Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
Secretariat of State for Energy, National Resources and Environment
Secretariat of State for Transport and Communications
Secretariat of State for Administrative Reform and Public Service

The following ministries were said to be provided to the rebel side or Self-Proclaimed Military Junta:

Ministry of Defense and for Freedom Fighters of the Country
Ministry of Internal Administration
Ministry of Economy and Finance
Ministry of Social Welfare
Secretariat of State for the Treasury
Secretariat of State for Commerce, Industry, Tourism, Arts and Crafts
Secretariat of State for Social Communication and Parliamentary Affairs
Secretariat of State for Freedom Fighters of the Country

  • 1. “Guinea-Bissau: Minister Says Rebels Welcome to Join National Unity Government,” BBC Monitoring Africa, November 2, 1998.
  • 2. “Guinea-Bissau president in consultations for unity government,” Agence France Presse, November 16, 1998.
  • 3. "Guinea-Bissau," Keesing's Record of World Events 45 (January 1999): 42708; “Guinea-Bissau: Gen Mane's Aide Appointed New Prime Minister,” BBC Monitoring Africa, December 1998.
  • 4. "Guinea-Bissau."
1999

Intermediate Implementation

On 20 February 1999, an interim government of national unity was sworn in. The cabinet included 16 members and was led by Prime Minister Francisco Fadul, who had been an advisor to General Mane. Among the 16 members, President Vieira and Mane had chosen eight members each. The government was to be in power until new elections were held. Elections were expected to be held in 1999.5

On May 14, 1999, only one week after President ‘Nino’ had been overthrown, the Speaker of the National Assembly and a prominent member of PAIGC, Malam Bacai Sanhá, was sworn in as interim President of the Republic, pending democratic elections. With the exception of a few minor nuances, this action was in accordance with the 1996 constitution, which allowed an interim president to be in office for a maximum of 60 days.6 Malam Bacai Sanhá was expected to remain in office from May 14 until after the elections began on November 28; thus his term would last for more than 60 days. It was also evident that the old parliament, elected in 1994, remained in office for much longer than the four years foreseen by the constitution. However, there was also an article (94.2) which stated that the members would retain their mandates until a new parliament had been elected. These changes were formalized in the “pact on the political transition” approved by parliament, the fourteen legally constituted political parties, the transitional government, and the military junta. The pact was described as a framework for leading the country back to “constitutional normality”.7 The transitional government under Prime Minister Francisco Fadul continued in office.

All this was not only in the spirit of the constitution, but also in accord with the West African and internationally backed Abuja Peace Agreement of November 1, 1998. The final and only point of the peace agreement that had not yet been implemented (although power-sharing by or with President Vieira was no longer possible) was democratic elections. The November 28, 1999 date for the first round of these elections had paradoxically been set by the reluctant ex-President himself, only a few days before he was forced out. It was confirmed in the transition pact.

The war was thus over and government institutions were in place. On June 6, 1999, President ‘Nino’ Vieira was allowed to leave the Portuguese embassy to seek political asylum in Portugal, by way of The Gambia. Vieira signed a document declaring that he was prepared to return to stand trial in Bissau in exchange for legal guarantees. He did not return. Politicians and military officers reiterated their agreement on democratic elections and the return to peace. But the state treasury was empty and the economy was almost paralyzed. The donors were skeptical. The authority of the state was dependent on the military might of the victorious ‘junta’.The months that followed were marked by the civilian government’s efforts to establish its authority and the military’s endeavors to “remain in the barracks.”8 

Multiparty elections for the legislature and president took place on 28 November 1999. In the legislative elections, the Social Renewal Party (PRS) won more seats and more votes than other political parties. None of the candidates emerged as a clear winner in the presidential elections. The second round of presidential elections was set to be held in January 2000.9

2000

Full Implementation

After holding presidential elections, the unity government provision in the accord was implemented. Kumba Ialá from the Social Renewal Party won the second round of presidential elections held on 16 January 2000.10After the elections, the Party of Social Renewal named 38-year old Caetano N'Tchama as prime minister.11

According to the Abuja Peace Agreement, the national unity government was intended to stand until elections were held. Nevertheless, the government of Guinea-Bissau, which took its final shape on 20 February, was comprised of a 22-person team that included members of all former opposition parties apart from the onetime single ruling PAIGC.12

2001

Full Implementation

The unity government provision of the accord was implemented after a new power-sharing government was formed through presidential elections in January 2000.

There were no further developments.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2008

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.