Guinea-Bissau Religion

Religious freedom is guaranteed in the constitution and the religious tolerance is traditionally high. In recent years, however, conflicts with religious signs have become more common.

About half of Guineans profess traditional indigenous religions. They are animists who see nature as soul.
Islam is the fastest growing religion. Most of the Muslims belong to the Mandinka or Ugly people and live in the northern or northeastern parts of the country. Almost all are Sunni Muslims.

There is also a Christian minority (both Catholics and Protestants). Most Christians live in Bissau and other major cities. In recent years, several Protestant free churches have grown. Young people who go there to break with the traditional living patterns.

Guinea-Bissau Population Pyramid 2020

Even among Muslims and Christians, many elements of traditional beliefs remain.

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Guinea-Bissau, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.



Sissoco Embaló wins the presidential election

December 29

It will be Madem-G15’s former prime minister Umaro Sissoco Embaló who will win the second round of the December 29 presidential election with just over 53 percent of the vote. He then defeats PAIGC’s Domingos Simões Pereira, who was the advance favorite to win, finishing at 46.5 percent. Both candidates had promised to modernize the country, create stability in the country after several politically troubled years, to boost the economy and to fight corruption. According to observers from the African Union(AU) the election has been quiet and according to the Election Commission, turnout is high. However, Sissoco Embaló, who is also a brigadier general, makes accusations of cheating and says that the Interior Ministry has pre-filled the ballot boxes with ballot papers. However, he does not present any evidence of his charges. These are rejected by representatives of the incumbent prime minister. After presenting the election results, it is Simões Pereira who comes with cheating charges and says that he should turn to the court to have the result tried in the Supreme Court.

CFA franc will be eco 2020

December 21

Eight West African countries using the CFA franc regional currency agree in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to change its name to eco. The intention is that it will continue to be linked to the euro, but the eight countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo will no longer have to store 50 percent of their foreign exchange reserves in France and France should no longer have any representative on the board of the currency union. The intention is for the change to take effect in 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is in place in Abidjan, says in connection with the fact that colonialism in Africa was “a serious mistake”. Critics of the CFA franc see it as a remnant from the colonial era, others as a guarantor of financial stability.

Vaz supports Sissoco Embaló in the presidential election

December 8

Outgoing President José Mário Vaz has decided to support Madem-G15 candidate Umaro Sissoco Embaló in the second round of the presidential election to be held on December 29. Vaz himself is only in fourth place, but he will be the first Guinean president in 25 years to manage (and some more) the term of office. Also, four Nuno Gomes Nabiam, from the APU-PDGB who gained just over 13 percent in the first round, and Carlos Gomes Jr, who received about 2 percent, support Sissoco Embaló.


Ready for second round in the presidential election

November 27th

It is now clear that there will be a second round of elections in the December 29 presidential election, as none of the candidates got 50 percent of the vote. It will be between PAIGC’s Domingos Simões Pereira, who received 40 percent of the vote on November 24, and Madem-G15 candidate Umaro Sissoco Embaló, who received 28 percent. However, Sissoco Embaló claims that the result was smoother than, according to the vote count his own team made. Simões Pereira’s message about a modernization of the country and a focus on care and school seems to have gone home with young voters. Sissoco Embaló, for its part, has promised action against corruption and drug trafficking through the country. Acting President José Mário Vaz finishes in fourth place with 12 percent of the vote, just ahead of Nuno Gomes Nabiam of the APU-PDGB who gets just over 13 percent of the vote.

Ecowas rejects fraud charges

November 26th

Representatives of the West African cooperation organization Ecowas reject all talk of widespread cheating during the election. The organization had 75 observers in place who should not have seen any irregularities. It is the acting President José Mário Vaz and his campaign who have accused PAIGC of voting and of having pre-filled ballot boxes with ballots. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, a former Malian prime minister who leads Ecowa’s election observers in the country, urges all candidates to respect the election results. Ecowas has also said that there is an armed force in readiness if the military tries to seize power in a coup.

Presidential election in Guinea-Bissau

November 24

The presidential election will be held as planned and will at least initially be conducted under calm conditions (later reported that riots have erupted in several places in the country). Twelve candidates participate. In addition to the incumbent President José Mário Vaz, who is running for independence, PAIGC’s Domingos Simões Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, who also participates as an independent candidate. When he votes for himself, Vaz says he will respect the result no matter who wins the election. The same goes for Domingos Simões Pereira. The hope is that the election will mark the end of several years of political conflict that was triggered when Vaz dismissed Pereira as prime minister. Later, however, a close associate of Vaz states that cheating has occurred and accuses PAIGC: s youth association to distribute rice and money in exchange for votes. He believes that it will therefore be for Vaz to approve the election. The result is expected to be clear only on November 28. If none of the candidates receive at least 50 percent of the vote, a second round of elections will be held on December 29. Whoever wins the election will have many difficult problems to deal with, such as widespread poverty, corruption, drug smuggling and major shortcomings in health care and education, while resources are extremely limited.

Faustino Imbali leaves

November 8

Faustino Imbali, appointed by President José Mário as new head of government at the end of October (see October 2019) is now leaving his post. This is done after pressure from the West African cooperation organization Ecowas, the African Union (AU) and the EU.

Ecowas puts the ultimatum to the new government

November 6

The West African Cooperation Organization gives the new government under Faustino Imbali 48 hours to retire. Otherwise, the organization threatens to impose harsh sanctions on the country.

Ecowas supports Gomes in the conflict with the president

November 3

West African leaders from the Ecowas partner organization support the resigned Prime Minister Aristides Gomes, but President Vaz is adamant in his decision to replace him with Faustino Imbali. Ecowas leaders, for their part, maintain that Vaz has no right to replace the head of government when his term as president expired in June 2019. Gomes has accused the acting president of wanting to impede obstacles to the presidential election later in November, and resigns continue with all preparations for the election. A delegation from Ecowas visits the country and conducts meetings, with Vaz, MPs, representatives of the Election Commission and foreign diplomats.


New government takes office, old refuses to resign

October 31st

The new government with Faustino Imbali as prime minister is taking office, despite the old refusing to step down. A new government with around 30 members is joining. Several ministers joined the transitional government that took office after the 2012 coup

Vaz dismisses Prime Minister Gomes who refuses to accept the decision

October 28

Prime Minister Aristides Gomes is dismissed by Acting President José Mário Vaz who dissolves the government and appoints Faustino Imbali as new head of government. It takes place just a month before the November 24 presidential election. Vaz justifies the decision that the state institutions did not function properly under the current government. However, Gomes refuses to accept the decision, pointing out that Vaz has no powers to make such decisions, since his mandate formally expired in June.

A death in connection with opposition protests

October 26th

Thousands of opposition supporters are demonstrating in Bissau to have the presidential election postponed in November and that voting lengths should be reviewed to avoid cheating. However, with the help of batons and tear gas, the police are trying to prevent members of the Social Renewal Party (PRS) from leaving their party premises to join the demonstration train. A person is so badly beaten by police that he later dies. Several protesters are arrested and a number of people injured when the police try to disband the protest march.

Twelve presidential candidates get the HD sign

October 14

Twelve candidates have now been approved by the Supreme Court for the November 24 presidential election. In addition to the incumbent President José Mário Vaz, who is running for independence, PAIGC’s Domingos Simões Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, who also participates as an independent candidate. However, seven candidates are rejected, among them the only woman: sociologist Nancy Schwartz.


1.8 tons of cocaine is seized

September 4th

Guinea-Bissau police seize 1.8 tonnes of cocaine. The drugs have been hidden in flour bags. Eight people are arrested, four Guineans, three Colombians and one Malay. It is the second major drug seizure of the year, in the spring of 2019, a seizure of 800 kilos of cocaine was made (see March 2019). According to police, the drugs were about to be shipped to Islamists from al-Qaeda in the Maghreb area of ​​northwestern Africa. Following a request from Guinean authorities, the international police organization sent personnel to the country to assist in the investigation. Police from Brazil and Colombia would also be involved in the investigation. If the drugs had been sold on the street in Europe, they would have been worth between $ 60 and $ 80 million.


Several candidates are ready for the presidential election

August 29th

Several candidates are now ready for the November 24 presidential election. PAIGC has elected Domingos Simões Pereira as its candidate, while former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior and incumbent President José Mário Vaz, who have both belonged to PAIGC, will take part as independent. Madem-G15 will be represented by Umaro Sissoco Embaló, who was Prime Minister between November 2016 and January 2018.


Gomes Júnior is running for president

July 13

Former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior announces that he plans to stand as independent in the November presidential election. Gomes Júnior previously led the country’s largest party PAIGC, but now contacts between him and the party are strained. In 2012, Gomes Júnior looked to win the presidential election, when the military took power in a coup. He has lived in exile in Portugal for many years.

Ecowas extends the mandate for peacekeeping

July 8

Ecowas decides to extend the mandate of Ecomib, the 500-strong peacekeeping force that Guinea-Bissau has held since 2012, for six months, until March 2020. According to analysts, it reduces the risk of a new military coup in the country ahead of the November presidential election.

New government ready

2 September

President José Mário Vaz appointed by decree a new government of 16 ministers, half of them women and 15 Secretary of State (including three women). The majority belong to PAIGC with related parties. When the government takes office, Prime Minister Aristides Gomes says it will place great importance on tackling the major socio-economic problems and preparing for the upcoming presidential election.


New tours around the presidential post

July 26

The National Assembly presents a motion for President Cipriano Cassamá to be appointed new interim president when José Mário Vaz’s term has expired a few days earlier. In the motion, it is proposed that Vaz be deprived of his powers, which the opposition parties PRS and Madem-G15 believe violates the law. A few days later, Ecowa’s supreme authority intervenes and decides that Vaz will remain as acting president until the election, but that he must also appoint a new government.

Gomes is appointed prime minister by decree

June 22

President José Mário Vaz appointed by decree Aristides Gomes, the country’s prime minister. This happens since Ecowas demanded that a new head of government be appointed within three days, otherwise the organization would decide on sanctions against Guinea-Bissau. President Váz has previously refused to appoint PAIGC leader Domingos Simões Pereira, party mate to Gomes, as prime minister, despite having the backing of the majority in the National Assembly. The question, however, is whether the appointment will solve the political deadlock that has been going on for several years. Later it was announced that President Vaz will not be allowed to attend any Ecowas meetings held until November 24, when Guinea-Bissau will elect a new president.

Vaz refuses to approve Simões Pereira as new head of government

June 19

President José Mário Vaz refuses to appoint PAIGC leader Domingos Simões Pereira as new prime minister, despite his name being proposed by a majority of members of the National Assembly. He urges them to submit another proposal.

Ready for presidential elections in November

June 18

President José Mário Vaz issues a decree to hold the presidential election in the country on November 24.


PAIGC supporters demand that Pereira be appointed head of government

May 25

Supporters of PAIGC who won the parliamentary elections in March gather in the streets to demand that President Vaz appoint their leader Domingos Simões Pereira as new prime minister. Pereira calls on the Ecowas cooperative to intervene. Earlier this month, PAIGC organized two similar events.


President Vaz stops new government

April 18

The new National Assembly is assembled for the first time. But the election of a new prime minister is delayed when President José Mário Vaz refuses to approve PAIGC leader Domingos Simões Pereira as new head of government.


Ready for new PAIGC-led coalition government

March 18th

PAIGC leader Domingos Simões Pereira agrees with three small parties to form a coalition government. It receives its own majority in the National Assembly, but with little margin. In a joint program, the parties promise to reform the country’s constitution, strengthen the security of the country and restore public administration. Before the process goes on, the Supreme Court must approve the election result. According to some analysts, the change of power means that Angola once again strengthens its influence in Guinea-Bissau. And there are suspicions that some parties used funds received through illegal logging during their campaign. And given the large cocaine seizure that was made just before Election Day, via the drug store.

800 kilos of cocaine is seized

March 10

Authorities announce that nearly 800 kilos of cocaine have been seized in Safim, a mile from the capital Bissau. It is the largest drug seizure in ten years, and suggests that Guinea-Bissau still plays a role as a hub for drug trafficking between Latin America and Europe. Four men, two Nigerians, a Senegalese and a Guinean, are arrested. Police are investigating whether any military or high ranking people are involved in the smuggling. The seizure is based on tips from British police, and is the first in the country since 2007.

PAIGC wins the parliamentary election

March 10

Guinea-Bissau finally goes to parliamentary elections, where about 20 parties take part. It is won by the African Independence Party of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which receives 46 percent of the vote and 47 of 102 seats, followed by the Movement for a Democratic Alternative (Madem-G15), formed by PAIGC members excluded the Party, which receives 27 and the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) with 21 seats. A change to the past is that at least 36 percent of the 102 members of the National Assembly must be women, but only 13 women are elected, 10 of whom are from PAIGC, exactly as many as in the previous parliament. The election is conducted under calm conditions and turnout is high, almost 85 percent. International observers from the African Union , among others(AU) and the West African cooperation organization Ecowas approve the election. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said before the election that he did not believe it would resolve the underlying political conflicts in the country. Prior to the election, there were speculations as to where the PRS and Madem-G15 received the relatively large sums of money they spent during the election movement. After the election, political tensions increase again.

Guinea-Bissau Religion