African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde

Published 13th February, 2012

The African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde or PAIGC was founded in 1956 by Amílcar Cabral and his brother Luís. Initially the party was established to fight for independence for Cape Verde and the then Portuguese Guinea from Portugal. It describes itself as a socialist party and believes in Socialism, Marxism and nationalism.

From the early 1960s the party was engaged in armed combat with Portuguese forces and by 1968 had control of much of the country. When independence came in 1974 the first president of Guinea-Bissau was Luís Cabral (his brother was assassinated the year before).

Until 1991 the PAIGC ruled Guinea-Bissau as a one party state. But in 1991 there was a move towards a multi-party democracy. In 1994, in the first fully democratic election in the country, the PAIGC won 62 of the 100 seats in the National People’s Assembly. In the same year João Vieira was elected president with 52.02% of the vote in the second ballot.

By 1998 the party was at odds with the military and the following year a coup deposed João Vieira and the PAIGC were thrown out of government. In 1999 the party suffered its only setback. In the presidential election Kumba Ialá of the Party for Social Renewal (PRS) won the presidential election and the PAIGC were reduced to just 24 of 100 seats in the National People’s Assembly.

By 2004 the PAIGC had recovered its base vote and they won the election with 45 of the 100 seats in parliament. In 2005 João Vieira also made a comeback as the PAIGC candidate by winning the presidential election with 52.35% of the vote in the second round.

Legislative elections in 2008 gave the PAIGC an absolute majority with 67 of 100 seats in parliament. The following year João Vieira was assassinated and fresh presidential elections saw Malam Bacai Sanhá of the PAIGC elected with 63.31% of the vote.

On 9th January 2012 President Sanhá died in a Paris hospital and fresh elections were called for 18th March.

The African Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde is a member of Socialist International.

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