Guinea Bissau Holds Presidential Poll

Posted March 18th, 2012 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Voters in the coup-prone West African nation of Guinea Bissau are casting ballots for a new president on Sunday.

Nine candidates are seeking the presidency in the tiny nation, which won independence from Portugal in 1974.

Since then, Guinea Bissau has struggled through a dictatorship, three coups and the 2009 assassination of a president. No elected president has served a full, five-year term.

The winner will succeed late president Malam Bacai Sanha, who died in January after a lengthy illness three years after being elected.

Guinea Bissau had 90 days to hold a presidential poll to replace Mr. Sanha.

Voters are hoping a new president will bring some stability to the country, which is used as a shipping point in the cocaine trade and where civilian and military leaders often wrestle for control.

The front-runners include former president Kumba Yala, who was overthrown in a 2003 coup, and Carlos Gomes Junior who resigned as prime minister to run for president.

If no candidate wins a majority in Sunday's poll, a runoff will take place next month.

Dozens of international observers are monitoring the election.