Monday 25 September 2017

Sao Tome ex-PM wins presidential run-off against no one

Sao Tome ex-PM wins presidential run-off against no one
(AFP 08/09/16)

Sao Tome's former premier Evaristo Carvalho has won a presidential run-off in which he ran unopposed after the incumbent declared a boycott, according to provisional results released Monday.

Carvalho, the 74-year-old ruling party candidate, won 82 percent of the total 51,173 ballots cast Sunday, according to figures released by the tiny West African archipelago's electoral commission.

Many of the 111,222 registered voters appeared to have stayed away, possibly to express support for incumbent president Manuel Pinto da Costa and third-placed candidate Maria das Neves -- both of whom alleged fraud in the first round.

Carvalho 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 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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