Friday, December 6, 2019

Guinea-Bissau presidential election kicks off after weeks of violent protests


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Guinea-Bissau will hold presidential elections on Sunday, with voters hoping for a change in the coup-prone country, weeks after political chaos sparked protests marred by violence and paralyzed parliament.

President Jose Mario Vaz, 61, is seeking a second term in office and remains popular among cashew nut farmers after raising the price of the West African country’s most important exports.

But the president faces stiff opposition after five years in the presidency, which has seen political conflicts, regular sackings of senior officials and recent worsening corruption.

Although no reliable polls have been published, political analysts say the front-runner is former prime minister Dominguez Simoz Pereira, 56, a quiet and popular figure among young voters in the capital Bissau after pledging to promote health education.

Preliminary results are expected to be announced on November 28 and, in the absence of an explicit winner, a second round will be held on December 29.

Guinea-Bissau has witnessed nine coups and coup attempts since independence from Portugal in 1974, most recently in 2012 when the military disrupted elections. If Mario completes his term, he will be the first president to do so.

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