Friday 20 April 2018

Sao Tome ex-PM declared winner of presidential poll

Sao Tome ex-PM declared winner of presidential poll
(AFP 08/20/16)

Sao Tome's former premier Evaristo Carvalho on Friday was officially declared winner of the tiny West African nation's stormy presidential election, picking up 100 percent of votes cast in the last round.

Carvalho, the 74-year-old ruling party candidate, won 41,820 votes, with 1,522 blank and 7,884 spoiled ballots at a run-off vote Sunday in which he ran against no one, official results showed.

Abstention in the one-candidate final leg of the race was high, with only 46 percent of the archipelago's 111,222 registered voters turning out.

Incumbent president Manuel Pinto da Costa, who picked up 24.83 percent in the first round of the vote, had refused to participate in the run-off.

Carvalho will be sworn in on September 3.

He was initially declared winner of the first-round vote on July 17 with more than 50 percent of the ballots -- but his tally was revised down to 49.8 percent, prompting the run-off.

But Pinto da Costa, who had lashed the process as fraudulent and demanded it be scrapped, announced he would not contest the second round.

Sao Tome, a former Portuguese colony that is reliant on foreign aid for 90 percent of its budget, has formerly been held up as a model of democracy compared to neighbours like Chad and Equatorial Guinea with rulers who have held power for decades.

The nation of 200,000 people has a tradition of premiers and presidents from opposing camps governing together peacefully, although the set-up has led to turf wars in the past.

The president has an arbitrating role in government but no executive powers, leaving the prime minister in the dominant position.

Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada is seen as the main winner of the run-off result now that both of Sao Tome's top jobs are set to be held by his centre-right ADI party.

Pinto da Costa became the first post-independence ruler in 1975 and established a Marxist-Leninist state.

His policies devastated the economy of what had been, at the start of the 20th century, the world's leading cocoa producer.

A clamp on the opposition sent many dissidents into exile, including Trovoada's father Manuel, after relations between the two men soured.

Manuel Trovoada returned after Sao Tome became a multiparty democracy in 1991 and was twice elected president.

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