A left-wing candidate wins the Cape Verdean presidency: partial results

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Left-wing candidate José Maria Neves won the Cape Verdean presidency in the first round, according to provisional results published on an official website.



Tourists plummeted in Cape Verde last year after Covid restrictions took effect


© Seyllou
Tourists plummeted in Cape Verde last year after Covid restrictions took effect

Neves won 51.5% of the vote according to the results based on 97% of the votes counted. An absolute majority in the first round means that the election does not need to go to a second round.

Neves, 61, who served as Prime Minister of the small West African nation between 2001 and 2006, ran for the opposition African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). The PAICV ruled the former Portuguese colony when it was a one-party state.



Veiga had already run for the presidency in 2006


© SEYLLOU DIALLO
Veiga had already run for the presidency in 2006

His main rival, another former prime minister, was lawyer Carlos Veiga, 71, who won 42.6% of the votes counted.

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Veiga was the candidate of the Center-Right Movement for Democracy (MpD), which has a majority in parliament.

The voter turnout was 48.3 percent.

Veiga admitted defeat on television, praising his rival.

If the results are confirmed by the electoral commission, the left-wing president and the center-right ruling party will have to find a way to cooperate politically.

Sunday’s election comes six months after the MpD won the legislative elections, beating the PAICV in second place.

Between them, the two parties have ruled the country since its independence from Portugal in 1975.

In Cape Verde’s semi-parliamentary political system, the prime minister has executive powers while the president acts as arbiter.

– Debate on post-Covid recovery –

The election campaign was marked by a debate on the future of the small West African nation battered by the global tourism slump caused by Covid.

Before the pandemic, visitors made up a quarter of the economy of the Volcanic Archipelago, a former Portuguese colony of half a million people praised for its stable government and smooth democratic transitions.

GDP fell 14.8% last year, and many hotels and restaurants have closed as coronavirus fears and restrictions have driven hundreds of thousands of visitors away.

Rampant inflation is another concern. Since the beginning of the month, the price of water and electricity has increased by 37%.

A total of 398,864 people were eligible to vote, including 56,000 Cape Verdeans living abroad, choosing between seven candidates.

Outgoing president Jorge Carlos Fonseca (MpD) was unable to re-run, having already served the maximum two terms.

Cape Verde is home to just over half a million people, living on 10 arid islands scattered about 500 kilometers (300 miles) off the coast of Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.

The islands were uninhabited until they were colonized in the 15th century by Portuguese traders who brought in slaves from the African continent.

The country is ranked second for governance in Africa on the index established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, after Mauritius.

Since Cape Verde organized its first free elections in 1991, it has never recorded any violence linked to electoral campaigns or their results.

mln-lal / dd / caw

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