Guinea-Bissau votes for new leader

2014-05-19 09:11
An election official shows a ballot at a polling station in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau during national elections. (File, AFP)

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

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Bissau - Guinea-Bissau voted on Sunday in a presidential election seen as a key test for the fragile state but marred by reports of violent intimidation tactics against supporters of the frontrunner.

Already mired in poverty, the west African nation has been stagnating since 2012 under the rule of an army-backed transitional government, with the economy anaemic and corruption fuelled by rampant drug trafficking.

Almost 800 000 voters had a choice between former finance minister Jose Mario Vaz, who won the first round on 13 April but failed to get an outright majority, and runner-up Nuno Gomes Nabiam, an independent.

Vaz told reporters as he arrived at a Bissau polling station with his wife Celestina that party colleagues had been attacked by "armed men" trying to influence the outcome.

"Some of my party's leaders have been intimidated by armed men who attacked them or their homes. That is unacceptable," said Vaz, who was flanked by bodyguards.

His African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde and the Guinea-Bissau Human Rights League later issued separate statements saying three Vaz supporters had been attacked on Saturday in Bissau while another 15 had been targeted in the central town of Bafata, around 150km away.

"We are in a democracy. It is inexcusable that people use force to prevent other citizens exercising their civic duty," Vaz said.

Deadly competition

The all-powerful army, long accused of involvement with drug cartels, stopped the 2012 election with a coup between rounds, and analysts had described its influence this time as "the big unknown".

But there had been no reports of disturbances related to the army by the time polling stations closed at 18:00.

At least 3 000 voting centres had opened across the country 11 hours earlier, with healthy crowds building up outside those visited by AFP reporters in Bissau.

But election commission vice-president Alleluia Catia Lopes told reporters that by the middle of the afternoon turnout looked some distance short of the first round rate of almost 90 percent.

"As I speak to you, 60 to 65 percent of those registered have voted. We hope that, by the end of voting, the rate may increase a little," he said.

"We are in the middle of the marketing year. Most voters are farmers, they went to the field rather than the ballot box."

Vaz has vowed to pursue "ongoing dialogue" with the military if he is named the new president, with election results expected within five days.

With a 40.9% share of the first-round vote against Nabiam's 24.8%, the 57-year-old father-of-three is the establishment candidate.

Nabiam, an engineer, has campaigned as the "unifying" choice, capable of bringing stability to his country.

"I am confident that victory will be on my side, because I have travelled across the country and I think my message was well received," he told reporters as he cast his ballot in the capital.

The former Portuguese colony is the only west African nation to have achieved independence through military force and, since 1974, the army and state have been in constant, often deadly, competition.

Colombian rebels

Its 1.6 million people have suffered intermittent unrest since liberation, as well as a series of military coups attributed largely to the unprecedented bloating of the army after the war.

This has led to chronic instability and a dysfunctional state which, with its porous coastline and abundant islands, provided fertile ground for Latin American drug lords looking for a hub from which to ship their cocaine to Europe.

An elected president has yet to finish his term in office in Guinea-Bissau.

The United States has charged 2012 coup leader Antonio Indjai with drug trafficking and seeking to sell arms to Colombian FARC rebels, although he has not been extradited and remains in Bissau.

The election will be the first since Indjai agreed in May 2012 to hand power to a civilian transitional regime headed by President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo.

Around 4 000 troops were ensuring security while 245 observers from various countries were deployed to polling stations.

A mostly orderly start to the election in Bissau appeared to have been replicated elsewhere in the country, according to the United Nations and residents contacted by AFP.

Read more on:    guinea-bissau  |  west africa  |  guinea bissau elections 2014
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Newlands - 08:12 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and Hospital Bend
  • Thursday Cape Town - 07:56 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    DELAYS approaching the M5 Koeberg Interchange
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1455.70

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.