African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape
Verde ( ) or PAIGC is a political party that governed Guinea-Bissau from the independence of the then Portuguese
Guinea in 1974, until the late 1990s, and from 2004 to
Currently it is the party with the largest number of
seats in the National People's
. It became part of a governing coalition in 2007, with
PAIGC member Martinho Ndafa Kabi
serving as Prime Minister, until withdrawing in 2008.
National revolutionary struggle
Amílcar Cabral founded the party with
his brother Luís in then-Portuguese
Guinea in 1956, advocating the independence of Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea from Portugal.
1950s Portuguese Guinea was the poorest and least developed
Portuguese colony in Africa, though it was
prized for its strategic position, as it acted as a stepping stone
from Portugal to her colonies of Portuguese Mozambique and Portuguese Angola.
the Pijiguiti Massacre took
place, with Portuguese soldiers opened fire on protesting dockworkers,
This massacre caused a large segment of the
population to swing towards the PAIGC's push for independence.
Portugal, however, still considered the PAIGC to be irrelevant, and
took no serious action in trying to suppress it.
the FRELIMO in Mozambique, the MPLA of Angola and the
PAIGC formed the
Conferência das Organizações Nacionalistas das Colónias
Portuguesas (Portuguese: Conference of Nationalist
Organisations of the Portuguese
Colonies), a common party to coordinate the struggles for
independence of Portuguese colonies across Africa.
groups were often represented at international events by the
The PAIGC was originally a peaceful movement, their first strategy
being requests for the Portuguese to peacefully withdraw from their
Guinea colony. As this failed, however, the PAIGC turned to more
violent measures to achieve independence.
struggle against the Portuguese began in March 1962 with an
abortive attack by PAIGC guerrillas on Praia.
concentrated to the mainland Guinea, however, as logistical
reasons prevented an armed struggle on
the Cape Verde islands. On the Cape Verde islands PAIGC worked in a
clandestine manner. After being nearly crippled militarily, Amílcar
Cabral ordered that sabotage
be the PAIGC's
main weapon until military
In January 1963 Cabral declared full scale war against the
Portuguese, and on January 23, the Portuguese fortress at Tite
came under heavy gunfire from PAIGC guerrillas.
Frequent attacks in the north also took place. In that same month,
attacks on police
stations in Fulacunda and
Buba were carried out not only by the PAIGC but also by the
context of the ongoing Cold War, PAIGC
guerrillas received Kalashnikov from the
USSR, bazookas from Cuba and recoilless rifles from the People's
Republic of China.
Guerrillas were also trained in these
The first party congress took place at liberated Cassaca
in February 1964, in which both the
political and military arms of the PAIGC were assessed and
reorganized, with a regular army (Revolutionary Armed
Forces of the People
, FARP) to supplement the guerrilla forces
(The People's Guerrillas).
was the site of a major
between PAIGC and Portuguese forces,
in which the PAIGC took control of the island and resisted fierce
counterattacks by the Portuguese, including airstrikes by FAP
(Portuguese: Forca Aérea Portuguesa
; Portuguese Air Force)
Throughout the war the Portuguese handled themselves poorly. It
took them a long time to finally take the PAIGC seriously,
diverting aircraft and troops based in Guinea to the conflicts in
Mozambique and Angola, and by the time that the Portuguese
government began to realise that the PAIGC was a significant threat
to their continued rule over Guinea, it was too late. Very little
was done to curtail the guerrilla operations; the Portuguese didn't
try to sever the link between the populace and the PAIGC until very
late in the war, and as a result, it became very dangerous for
Portuguese troops to operate far from their fortresses.
Following the loss of Como Island, the Portuguese army
and the air force
(FAP) began the Operation Tridente
, a combined arms
operation to retake the island
. The PAIGC fought fiercely, and the Portuguese
took heavy casualties and gained ground slowly.
Finally, after 71 days of fighting and 851 FAP combat sorties, the
island was taken back by the Portuguese. However, less than two
months later, the PAIGC would retake the island, as the Portuguese
operation to capture it had depleted much of their invasion force,
leaving the island vulnerable.
Como Island ceased to be of strategic importance to Portugal
following establishment of new PAIGC positions in the south,
especially on the Cantanhez
numbers of Portuguese troops on these peninsulas were encircled and
besieged by guerrillas.
Amílcar Cabral attended the
Conferencia Tricontinental Enero in Havana and made a
great impression on Fidel
Castro. As a result of this, Cuba agreed to
supply artillery experts, doctors and technicians to assist in the
The head of the Cuban Military
Mission was Victor Dreke
the PAIGC had carried out 147 attacks on Portuguese barracks and
army encampments, and effectively controlled 2/3rd of Portuguese
The following year, Portugal began a new
campaign against the guerrillas with the arrival of the new
governor of the colony, António de Spínola
began a massive construction campaign, building schools
and improving telecommunications
and the road
system, in an attempt to gain public favour in
in 1970 the FAP began to use similar weapons to those the US was using in the Vietnam
War: napalm and defoliant, the former to destroy guerrillas
when they could find them, the latter to decrease the number of
ambushes that occurred when they could not.
tenure as governor marked a turning point in the war: Portugal
began to win battles, and in a daring raid on Conakry, in the neighbouring Republic of Guinea, 400 amphibious troops attacked the city and freed
26 Portuguese prisoners of war kept
there by the PAIGC.
and Cuba began to send more weapons to Portuguese Guinea via
Nigeria, notably several Ilyushin
Il-14 aircraft to use as bombers.
the Portuguese army in the Guinea colony began to start winning
battles more frequently, the government in Lisbon was on the
verge of bankruptcy, and in 1974,
following a military coup
d'état, the Portuguese government began to negotiate with the
PAIGC, and on September 10, independence was granted.
, brother of Amílcar,
became the country's first president.
In January 1973, a crushing blow was dealt to the PAIGC: its
leader, Amílcar Cabral, was assassinated
, not by the Portuguese, but
rather by a disgruntled former associate . Independence was
unilaterally declared on September 24, 1973 and was recognized by a
93–7 UN General Assembly vote in November, unprecedented as it
denounced illegal Portuguese aggression and occupation and was
prior to Portuguese recognition.
1,875 Portuguese soldiers (out of 35,000 stationed in Portuguese
Guinea) and some 6,000 (out of 10,000) PAIGC troops were killed by
the end of the 11 year war.
achieving independence, PAIGC was instituted as the sole legal
political party of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Luís Cabral
became the president of
Guinea-Bissau. PAIGC strove for a union between Guinea-Bissau and
Cape Verde, but in 1980 the union finally broke down, following the
military take-over by João
Bernardo "Nino" Vieira
against Cabral, who was of Capeverdean
origin. The Cape Verdean branch of PAIGC was converted into a
separate party, the African Independence
Party of Cape Verde
The youth wing of PAIGC is called African Youth Amilcar Cabral
(Juventude Africana Amilcar Cabral
) and the women's wing
is called Democratic Union of the
Women of Guinea
(União Democrática das Mulheres da
Under Vieira, the party continued to govern the country in the
1980s and 1990s. Vieira was re-elected as PAIGC Secretary-General
at the party's fourth congress in November 1986. Following the
introduction of multiparty politics in 1991, the first multiparty
elections were held in 1994. Vieira won the 1994 presidential
election against opposition candidate Kumba
of the Party for
(PRS), while the PAIGC won 62 out of 100
parliamentary seats, with 46% of the vote.
Vieira was re-elected for another four-year term as President of
PAIGC in mid-May 1998 at PAIGC's sixth congress, with 438 votes in
favor, eight opposed, and four abstaining; the post of
Secretary-General was abolished at this congress. An outbreak of
in June 1998
eventually led to the ouster of Vieira in May 1999. A few days
afterward, former Prime Minister Manuel Saturnino da Costa
named acting President of PAIGC on May 12, 1999, replacing Vieira.
Vieira was expelled from PAIGC at a party congress in September
1999 for "treasonable offences, support and incitement to warfare,
and practices incompatible with the statutes of the party".
, the leader of
reformists within the party and the only civilian in the
transitional military junta, was elected as the President of PAIGC
at the end of this congress, on September 9, 1999. Benante's
candidacy was supported by the junta, and he received 174 votes
against 133 votes for the only opposing candidate. The PAIGC won
the third highest number of seats in the November 1999 parliamentary
, and its presidential candidate, Malam Bacai Sanhá
, was defeated by
In the 2004
, held on 28 and 30 March 2004, the PAIGC
was the largest single political party, winning 31.45 % of the
popular vote and 45 out of 100 seats. It formed a government in May
2004, with the party's leader, Carlos Gomes Júnior
, becoming Prime
Minister. In the 2005 presidential
, PAIGC candidate Malam Bacai Sanhá won 35.45 % in the
first round. He was defeated in the second round by João Bernardo
Vieira, who had returned from exile and ran as an independent.
Sanhá won 46.65 % of the vote, while Vieira won 52.35 %. A few
weeks after taking office, Vieira dismissed Carlos Gomes Júnior as
Prime Minister on 28 October 2005, and on 2 November he appointed
, who had formerly
been a high ranking member of PAIGC but split with the party to
support Vieira, in his place.
In March 2007, the PAIGC formed a three-party alliance with the PRS
and the United Social
, and the three parties sought to form a new
government. This led to a successful no-confidence vote against
Aristides Gomes and his resignation late in the month; on 9 April,
the choice of the three parties for the position of prime minister,
Martinho Ndafa Kabi
appointed as prime minister by Vieira, and on 17 April a new
government was named, composed of ministers from the three parties.
Kabi is a leading member of PAIGC; he was elected as the party's
Third Vice-President in 2002.
PAIGC withdrew its backing for Kabi on February 29, 2008, saying
that this was done "to avoid acts of indiscipline threatening
cohesion and unity in the party".
PAIGC's Seventh Ordinary Congress, held in Gabu
, began on June 26, 2008; 1,050 delegates
participated. Malam Bacai Sanhá, the party's presidential candidate
in 2000 and 2005, challenged Gomes for the party leadership, but
Gomes was re-elected for a five-year term as President of PAIGC on
July 1–July 2, receiving 578 votes against 355 for Sanhá. Kabi,
dissident within the party and associated with Aristides Gomes),
and Baciro Dia
also contested the
leadership election, but attracted comparatively little
After Kabi dismissed the directors of customs, taxes and the
treasury on July 25, 2008 without notifying the party, PAIGC
decided to withdraw from the three-party stability pact that was
signed in March 2007. Vieira then dismissed Kabi and appointed
as Prime Minister on
- Brockman, Norbert C. An African Biographical
Dictionary, 1994, p. 73.
- UN Resolution, PDF
- Donald F. Busky, Communism in History and Theory: Asia,
Africa, and the Americas (2002), Greenwood Publishing Group,
- IPU PARLINE page for 1994 parliamentary
- "Guinea-Bissau: President Vieira cleared to run for
re-election", AFP (nl.newsbank.com), 14 May 1998.
- IPU PARLINE page for 1999 parliamentary
- "Guinea-Bissau ex-president replaced as party leader", RTP
Internacional TV (nl.newsbank.com), May 12, 1999.
- "GUINEA-BISSAU: PAIGC chooses new chairman, expels
Vieira", IRIN, September 10, 1999.
- "Guinea-Bissau party elects chairman, expels ex-president", AFP
(nl.newsbank.com), September 9, 1999.
- IPU PARLINE page for 2004 parliamentary
- "Vieira rejects calls to dissolve government",
AFP (IOL), March 14, 2007.
- "Guinea-Bissau appoints consensus premier",
Reuters (IOL), April 10, 2007.
- Alberto Dabo, "Guinea-Bissau's new government named", Reuters
(IOL), April 18, 2007.
- Profile on PAIGC website (in Portuguese).
- Alberto Dabo, "Guinea-Bissau opposition withdraws support for PM",
Reuters, March 1, 2008.
- "7ème congrès du PAIGC à 200 km à l’est de
Bissau", African Press Agency, June 26, 2008 .
- "L’ancien Premier ministre bissau guinéen Carlos
Gomis, réélu président du PAIGC", African Press Agency, July 2,
- "PAIGC retira-se de Pacto de Estabilidade Política
Nacional", Panapress, July 27, 2008 .
- "GUINEA-BISSAU: Elections fears as unity government
splits", IRIN, July 31, 2008.
- "GUINEA-BISSAU: Uncertain future as President
dissolves government", IRIN, August 6, 2008.