Guinea-Bis­sau votes for new pres­i­dent, par­lia­ment

Daily Trust - - AFRICA INTERNATIONAL -

Guinea-Bis­sau is voting in pres­i­den­tial and par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, amid hope that sta­bil­ity can be re­stored.

Al­ready poor, the west African coun­try is plagued by cor­rup­tion, fu­elled by co­caine traf­fick­ing.

It is the first elec­tion since a coup in 2012, af­ter which the EU and oth­ers sus­pended aid do­na­tions.

With a his­tory of coups, no elected leader has served a full term since in­de­pen­dence from Por­tu­gal in 1974.

There are 13 can­di­dates for pres­i­dent and 15 par­ties field­ing can­di­dates for par­lia­ment.

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 (PRS) of for­mer Pres­i­dent Kumba Yala, who died last week.

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.

A gifted econ­o­mist who has spent most of his life work­ing abroad, in­clud­ing as the leader of the World Bank’s sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa di­vi­sion, he be­lieves he has the know-how to be­gin to turn around the coun­try’s for­tunes.

The west African na­tion has stag­nated since 2012, un­der the rule of a tran­si­tional govern­ment backed by its all-pow­er­ful mil­i­tary.

With few re­sources other than cashew nuts and fish, South Amer­i­can drug car­tels have turned the coun­try into a co­caine traf­fick­ing hub.

The money that gen­er­ates has cor­rupted many of the coun­try’s pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, par­tic­u­larly its armed forces. BBC

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