Thursday 23 November 2017

Sao Tome PM hails end of political 'cohabitation' after vote

Sao Tome PM hails end of political 'cohabitation' after vote
(AFP 08/10/16)

The prime minister of Sao Tome and Principe on Tuesday said his country had entered an era of stronger governance after his ally Evaristo Carvalho was elected president.

"This is a new moment ... the end of cohabitation," Patrice Trovoada said on national television, referring to the often-fractious tradition of power-sharing.

"The conditions are now ripe for greater cohesion in government and for better institutional relations," said Trovoada, who predicted parliament and the judiciary would also benefit from the change.

Africa's second smallest state, Sao Tome and Principe is a tiny archipelago off the coast of Gabon.

Although considered a beacon for democracy in West Africa, the former Portuguese colony has also been riven by turf wars between the prime minister and head of state.

The state has had "cohabitation" between political forces since a multiparty system was introduced in 1991.

Trovoada had squabbled repeatedly with defeated president Pinto da Costa, with whom there was a family history of animosity.

The win by Carvalho, his ally, in Sunday's election for the presidency should end friction between the two offices, Trovoada said.

Carvalho is expected to play a mediator's role, while Trovoado will wield the real power with the support of the centre-right Independent Democratic Action (ADI) party, which has a majority in parliament.

"Sao Tome and Principe needs a new era of work, a new era of mutual help, with political consistency and stability in government. We must all work to take the country forward," Carvalho said in his own televised address.

The ADI faces a "great responsibility", he said.

Carvalho, the 74-year-old vice-president of the ADI party, won Sunday's second round of the presidential poll with a little more than 42,000 votes from an electorate of about 111,000, according to provisional results.

As in Portugal, the president does not govern but serves as a mediator in disputes in the nation of about 200,000 inhabitants, which became independent in 1975 and today relies on international aid to sustain 90 percent of its economy.

After Pinto da Costa found himself in second place during the first round of the election on July 17, with 24.83 percent of votes against 49.8 percent for his main rival, the 79-year-old leader backed out of the race.

He cried fraud and called for the annulment of the whole electoral process, but the constitutional tribunal rejected his plea between the two rounds of voting.

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