- Malan Bacai Sanhá and Kumba Yala are being considered in Bissau as the front runners as votes are counted from Sunday's presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau. All indications are that there will be a run-off election between these two candidates.
Preliminary information on the vote counting from Sunday's presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau indicates that ex-transitional leader Manal Bacai Sanhá - representing the ruling PAIGC party - and ex-President Kumba Yala are ahead of the remaining 11 candidates, including former President João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira.
The results that have come in so far, however, also point to the likelihood of a run-off election between the two front-runners, as no single candidate appears to have gotten the 50 percent of votes necessary to be declared the winner. A second election round would then be organised on 10 July.
The PAIGC, which holds a majority in parliament and backs Mr Sanhá, is already making contacts with the parties to which the remaining candidates belong in order to garner support. Mr Vieira, an independent candidate, so far has counted on many PAIGC members and is expected to lend his support to Mr Sanhá in a possible second round.
The ethnic vote for Kumba Yala on the part of his fellow Balantas and the massive support of Malan Bacai Sanhá in the capital, Bissau, seem to explain voters' behaviour as initial forecasts predicting a better showing for "Nino" Vieira, who ruled Guinea-Bissau for nearly two decades before being deposed in a military coup, prove to have been exaggerated.
Most of the international observers considered Sunday's elections free and transparent, and nearly all are of the opinion that the country has never seen an election as civil, democratic and participatory as this one.
In a joint statement issued by the different foreign election observer teams yesterday, the polling exercise was termed "free, fair and transparent". The population was congratulated for its "maturity" during the electoral process and the National Election Commission (CNE) for its "good organisation" of the poll.
This very positive evaluation is corroborated by the total absence of incidents at polling stations on election day. The only sign of aggression came from the body guards of candidate Kumba Yala, who assaulted two journalists in an action that was promptly condemned by the trade union representing the press. Observers and citizens now hope that the situation will remain peaceful when the CNE soon announces the final results of the poll.
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