G-Bissau poll commission hails strong turnout

2014-04-14 14:57
An election official shows a ballot during ballot counting at a polling station in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau during national elections. (Seyllou, AFP)

An election official shows a ballot during ballot counting at a polling station in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau during national elections. (Seyllou, AFP)

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Bissau - The turnout in Guinea-Bissau's presidential and parliamentary polls could exceed 70 percent, the election commission said on Monday.

The west African nation voted on Sunday in an election its people hope will turn the page on years of instability in a country plagued by drugs and upended by a military coup in 2012.

"The numbers are positive, taking into account the voter turnout in the various polling stations. Turnout could exceed 70%," the commission's president, Augusto Mendes, told reporters.

The figure, if confirmed, would be a record in a country where previous turnout has always been below 60%.

Mendes said the commission was making every effort to publish results from Wednesday.

The polls cap four decades of chaos marked by a series of mutinies since the west African nation won independence from Portugal, and commentators have called for the new regime to finally bring the military into line.

The impoverished country has been stagnating for two years under the rule of a transitional government backed by the all-powerful military, with the economy anaemic and cocaine trafficking fuelling corruption.

New coup

Thirteen politicians have been seeking to convince the people of Guinea-Bissau that they can stand up to the generals and reform the armed forces as the new president, while 15 parties are fielding candidates for parliamentary seats.

Among the presidential hopefuls are political heavyweights such as former finance minister Jose Mario Vaz, and Abel Incada, a member of the Party for Social Renewal of former president Kumba Yala, who died earlier this month.

The dark horse, however, could be 50-year-old independent candidate Paulo Gomes, an unusual proposition in a political landscape hitherto dominated by political grandees who made their names during the war of independence.

AFP correspondents found large queues in polling stations they visited on Sunday.

But voters have voiced fears that there could be a new coup after the publication of results, if the winning candidate is not acceptable to the army.
Read more on:    guinea-bissau  |  west africa  |  guinea-bissau elections
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