Guinea-Bissau profile - Leaders

  • 18 August 2015
  • From the section Africa

President: Jose Mario Vaz

Image caption Mr Vaz vowed to fight poverty and bring stability to the country

Jose Mario Vaz, a former finance minister, won the presidential election run-off of May 2014 by a big margin.

Mr Vaz, from the dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), defeated rival Nuno Gomes Nabiam, an independent seen as close to the army.

The 57-year-old is Guinea-Bissau's first elected leader since the army mutinied in 2012 and plunged into chaos a country already plagued by corruption and cocaine trafficking.

Following the 2012 coup, interim President Raimundo Pereira and leading presidential contender Carlos Gomes Junior were arrested and subsequently left Guinea Bissau. A transitional government led by Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo was formed.

Mr Vaz's election was meant to draw a line under those events, but Guinea-Bissau has a record of military coups, and no elected leader has served a full term since independence 40 years ago.

In a speech following his election win, Mr Vaz vowed to fight poverty and bring stability to the country.

But the latter goal proved elusive. A year after coming to power, Mr Vaz dismissed his prime minister and party colleague, Domingos Simoes Pereira, following a series of disputes between the two, including over the naming of a new army chief.

However, Mr Pereira refused to quietly, leading hundreds of protesters demanding his reinstatement and winning the backing of the governing PAIGC.