This will be Mr Vaz’s second overseas trip since he won the run-off presidential election on 18 May.
The Office of the President appealed to Gambians “to come out en masse” and accord Mr Vaz a rousing welcome.
José Mário Vaz was born on 10 December 1957. He was named by President Malam Bacai Sanhá as the country’s finance minister in 2009, though he and the other ministers were ousted in the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d’etat. He is a member of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde and won the right to represent the party in the 2014 presidential election by besting eleven hopefuls during a two-day primary in March 2014.
In the first round of the election on 13 April 2014, he won 40.9% of the votes, and entered a runoff with the second leading vote-getter, Nuno Gomes Nabiam, who was backed by the country’s military. In the second round, on 18 May 2014, he received 61.9% of the vote. Though Gomes Nabiam initially contested the result, he conceded the election on 22 May 2014.
During the election, he promised to focus on reducing poverty and increasing investment in agriculture, as well forgiveness for participation in the sorts of criminal activities that have turned Guinea-Bissau into a haven for drug traffickers. After the 2012 coup, he fled to Portugal, but returned in February 2013 and spent three days under arrest. He was accused of being involved in the disappearance of €9.1 million in aid donated to the country by Angola, a charge he denies, and it remains unclear if the donation was ever sent.
Popularly known by the nickname “Jomav,” he was born in 1957 to Mário Vaz and Amelia Gomes in Calequisse, outside the city of Cacheu in northern Guinea-Bissau, and is married with three children. He was trained as an economist in Lisbon at the Office of Economic Studies of the Banco de Portugal in 1982. In 2004, he was elected as mayor of the city of Bissau, a position he held until his appointment as Financial Minister.]]>