President of Guinea-Bissau, Jose Mario Vaz has lost his re-election bid after the result of Sunday polls shows he failed to make it to the second ballot which will hold on December 29.
His two rivals and two former prime ministers, Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Cissoko Embalo led in the first round of the election with 40 percent and 28 percent of the votes respectively in the result declared Wednesday by the country’s electoral commission.
Vaz who becomes the first president of the former Portuguese colony to complete his term of office without being overthrown or killed in 25 years received only 12 percent of the votes.
He has been in power in that West African country since 2014. His five years in office have been characterised by political infighting within his party and corruption.
The 62-year old Guinea-Bissau leader contested the election as an independent candidate after falling apart with the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) that has majority if seat in the country’s parliament.
The two candidates who will contest in the second round of the presidential election both served as prime minister under President Vaz. While the 56-year old Domingos Simoes Pereira was the first prime minister under Vaz before he was sacked after one year,Uthe 47-year old Umaro Cissoko Embalo served as prime minister between 2016 and 2018.
As recent as October 29, President Vaz appointed a new prime minister in the person of Faustino Fudut Imbali of the Manifest Party of the People to replace Aristides Gomes of the ruling PAIGC who refused to leave office. Gomes insisted that the President’s decision to sack him was illegitimate since his term had technically expired on June 23.
This heightened political tensions in country especially between the President and the ruling PAIGC that had Domingos Simoes Pereira as its candidate in the presidential election.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had to immediately deploy peace keeping force in Guinea-Bissau to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order in the country that has a long history of military coups and political assassinations since her independence from Portugal in 1974.
ECOWAS had also demanded the resignation of Faustino Fudut Imbali as Prime Minister with threats of sanctions. On November 7, Imbalio who had served in the same post from 2000 to 2003 submitted his resignation to President Vaz in line with the ECOWAS directive.
Under the Guinea-Bissau constitution, the President who is elected in a general election appoints the Prime Minister who becomes the head of government and leader of the country’s parliament
The electoral commission says over 760,000 voters had registered to vote in the crucial presidential polls that had a total of 12 candidates. The electorate will now have to choose between Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Cissoko Embalo who will succeed President Vaz.
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