UN “Pleased” With Guinea Bissau Election

Posted March 18th, 2012 at 11:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.N. mission in Guinea Bissau says the world body and its international partners are “very pleased” with the country's presidential vote, as election workers count ballots in the coup-prone West African nation.

A spokesman for the U.N. Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau , Vladimir Monteiro, told VOA that turnout was low early during Sunday's voting, but that election officials were able to encourage more people to participate later in the day.

“We don't have the figures yet, but what is important is that it was held in a very peaceful manner.”

Results are expected within one week.

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 U.N. mission spokesman said he heard those hopes voiced Sunday.

“All voters interviewed by radio were pronouncing one word – we are voting because we want peace, and we are expecting that this election process will lead to the stabilization of the country. Definitely.”

Nine candidates are seeking the presidency.

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, a runoff will take place next month.

Since winning independence from Portugal in 1974, 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 two years after being elected.

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

Dozens of international observers monitored the election.