Former Cape Verdean Prime Minister Jose Maria leads the presidential elections


Former Cape Verdean Prime Minister José Maria Neves won the presidential election in the first round on Sunday in this archipelago cited as an example of democratic success in West Africa, according to provisional results published on an official website.

Mr. Neves, 61, member of the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) and head of government from 2001 to 2016, obtained 51.5% of the vote, with the absolute majority to be elected in the first round, according to the results of 97% of polling stations.

He is well ahead of Carlos Veiga, of the Movement for Democracy (MPD, center-right, majority in parliament). Mr Veiga, 71, another former prime minister from 1991 to 2000, obtained 42.6% of the vote, according to the same results.

The abstention rate reached 51.7% of registered voters.

Mr Veiga admitted his defeat in front of the television and congratulated his opponent.

These results have yet to be validated by the electoral commission.

The president‘s field of action is limited. Cape Verde has a semi-parliamentary system with a strong emphasis on the Prime Minister, the government and the parliament.

Mr. Neves’ long tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the establishment of relations with China, the signing of a treaty with the European Union and the establishment in 2008 of a predominantly female government .

A total of 398,864 Cape Verdeans, including more than 56,000 abroad, were invited to choose a candidate from a record of seven contenders, all men, to lead this volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic off Senegal. .

The objective was to appoint the fifth head of state of independent Cape Verde after Jorge Carlos Fonseca, of the MpD. Elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2016, he was unable to run for a third consecutive term.

Since the establishment of the multiparty system in 1990, 15 years after the independence of Portugal, the PAICV and the MpD share power and practice a harmonious alternation.

Mr. Neves takes control of a country of 550,000 people with one of the highest GDP per capita in West Africa and years of sustained growth.

But the economy, which is 25% dependent on mainly European tourism and also on remittances from the large diaspora and development aid, has been hit hard by the Covid-19. The pandemic has exacerbated the effects of a drought that has worsened in recent years.

Carlos Veiga also lost in 2001 and 2006 to PAICV-backed candidate Pedro Pires.

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