Ruling party candidate wins Guinea-Bissau poll

Guinea-Bissau ruling party candidate Malam Bacai Sanha has won a presidential election run-off held after the assassination of the country’s veteran leader, vote organisers said Wednesday.

“The candidate Malam Bacai Sanha having obtained 224,259 votes, corresponding to 63.52 percent of votes cast, is the winner of the second round of the presidential election,” the head of the National Elections Commission, Desejado Lima Da Costa, said during a brief ceremony.

His rival Kumba Yala took 36.48 percent of the votes and the turnout was 61 percent of the electorate in the former Portuguese colony where both men have previously served as head of state.

Sunday’s poll was organised after a series of assassinations, including that in early March of president Joao Bernardo Vieira, killed by troops within hours of the death in a bomb attack of the army chief, General Batista Tagme Na Waie.

“If within 48 hours, there is no complaint, the announced provisional results will be considered definitive,” the electoral panel’s president said.

Yala said after the announcement that he accepted the results.

“I ask the new president-elect to work for the development of Guinea-Bissau,” he told AFP.

The director of Sanha’s campaign on behalf of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea, Agusto Olivais, said that “the result reflects the political maturity of our people.”

“It’s democracy that has won,” he told AFP.

Sanha, 62, who was interim president from 1999 to 2000 but then lost to Yala in the 2000 election, addressed a rally of supporters in Bissau.

“Let’s wait for confirmation of the final results so we can savour even more this victory, which is for all the people of Guinea Bissau; there is no victor nor vanquished,” he said.

When asked about relations with his rival, Sanha said Yala was “an important person on the political scene in our country and for that reason I am asking that we work together for the development of our country”.

On Saturday, the two candidates had signed an agreement “to respect the results” and “use legal channels” to settle any potential challenge to the outcome.

The document provided for the loser to enjoy the status of a former head of state, with personal security, a protocol service and private transport.

Yala made no mention of wanting to challenge the results and he said that the status accorded former leaders of the nation “contributes to guaranteeing peace, stability and national harmony.”

On the day of the election, army chief of staff General Zamora Induta urged the two candidates to “resort to judicial means in the event of an (electoral) challenge to avoid creating disturbances.”

The army is highly influential in Guinea-Bissau, a nation prone to trouble in the aftermath of elections.

The country has recently also been rendered vulnerable and unstable because it is used as a transit point in the cocaine trade by Latin American dealers making deliveries to Europe.

Sunday’s election was presented by authorities on all sides as a step on the way to restoring stability. Nearly 150 international observers monitored the vote and none of them reported any serious irregularities.


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