Guinea Bissau votes for president after weeks of chaos

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BISSAU (Information) – Voters forged their ballots in Guinea Bissau’s presidential election on Sunday, which they hope will convey change to the coup-prone nation after weeks of political chaos that sparked violent protests and deadlocked parliament.

Supporters of presidential candidate Umaro Sissoko Embalo collect exterior his marketing campaign headquarters, forward of Sunday’s presidential election in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau November 22, 2019. Information/Christophe Van Der Perre

President Jose Mario Vaz, 61, is searching for re-election for a second time period, and he stays common amongst cashew nut farmers within the inside after elevating costs for the nuts, the tiny West African nation’s largest export earner.

However he faces stiff opposition following a primary five-year time period marred by political infighting, common high-level sackings and corruption that got here to a head within the run-up to Sunday’s election.

“The folks of Guinea Bissau are sovereign, and I’ll respect the decision of the poll field,” Vaz, carrying a white shirt and black trousers, stated after casting his poll within the capital, Bissau.

“I’ve achieved my mission of restoring peace and tranquillity,” he stated.

Joaquim Branco, the top of the African Union’s observer mission, stated the early hours of voting had gone easily.

Preliminary outcomes are anticipated on Nov. 28. If there is no such thing as a outright winner, a second spherical between the highest two candidates will happen on Dec. 29.

Whereas no dependable opinion polls have been revealed, political analysts say the front-runner is former Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, 56, a modernizer with a relaxed model whose promise to bolster well being and schooling have made him common with youthful voters in Bissau.

“Guinea Bissau has confronted 5 years of political and institutional crises,” Pereira advised Information in an interview final week, including that the nation wants “a president who is ready to create an environment conducive to the restoration of peace and stability.”

NINE COUPS

Guinea Bissau has suffered 9 coups or tried coups since independence from Portugal in 1974, most lately in 2012 when a navy takeover disrupted elections. If Vaz completes his time period, he would be the first president to take action.

The nation’s abandoned seashores and scattered islands are a draw for adventurous vacationers, however its unpoliced waters additionally present passage for drug traffickers smuggling cocaine en route from South America to Europe.

The following president will inherit main challenges together with widespread poverty and an unstable political system during which the bulk social gathering appoints the federal government however the president has the ability to dismiss it. There have been seven prime ministers since Vaz took over in 2014.

Vaz fired premier Aristides Gomes on Oct. 29 and appointed a successor, however Gomes refused to step down. For about 10 days the nation had two prime ministers, till Vaz backed down beneath strain from the regional bloc ECOWAS.

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Ude Mane, a 27-year-old civil servant, stated she supported Pereira and his African Occasion for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which holds a majority in parliament.

“It’s the solely social gathering that may pull the nation out of its financial hunch,” she stated.

The polls are on account of shut on Sunday at 1700 GMT.

Writing by Edward McAllister and Aaron Ross; Modifying by Helen Popper and Emelia Sithole-Matarise