Guinea Bissau elects a new leader

Guinea Bissau elects a new leader

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 11:26 pm

Guinea-Bissau’s former finance minister Jose Mario Vaz scored a resounding victory Tuesday in a presidential election seen as a key test of stability in the coup-prone country.

The candidate of the west African nation’s dominant party won an overwhelming 62 percent of the vote against independent rival Nuno Gomes Nabiam with 38 percent, the election commission said.

Vaz told journalists he was “very happy, and a bit surprised by the enthusiasm shown for him.”

Jose Mario Vaz: president elect of Guinea Bissau

Jose Mario Vaz: president elect of Guinea Bissau

However, his rival Nabiam said that the announced poll results “did not correspond to those that my campaign manager gave me.”

He is expected to reveal on Wednesday whether or not he will recognise the official figures.

If the result is confirmed by the supreme court, the 57-year-old Vaz will be named the first elected leader since the army mutinied in 2012, plunging into chaos a state already in the grip of powerful cocaine cartels and beset by political violence.

The army issued a statement late Tuesday that “there was no alarming situation” and that “the armed forces would remain under the political power and respect the verdict of the voters.”

Jose Ramos-Horta, the head of the country’s United Nations mission, called on the international community to offer emergency financial support, in particular to pay late public sector wages.

He warned that “the restoration of the constitutional order could collapse very quickly”, with “more disastrous consequences than the country has ever seen”, if cash wasn’t forthcoming.

“The end of the transition marks a new stage which demands our constant commitment to help Bissau-Guineans work on the country’s serious political, social and economic problems,” he told a meeting of the Security Council.

Vaz, of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), won the first round on April 13 but failed to get an outright majority, pitting him against Nabiam in a head-to-head second round on Sunday.

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