Former Guinea-Bissau PM wins presidential election

Former Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister and ex-army general Umaro Cissoko Embalo won Sunday’s presidential run-off with 54% of the vote, the electoral commission announced Wednesday. His rival, Domingos Simoes Pereira said he will contest the result with the Supreme Court.

Embalo, 47, a longtime opposition leader and reserve brigadier general, was declared the winner of Sunday’s run-off vote in the West African nation. His rival, Pereira, another former prime minister, took 46 percent of the vote, according to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

But shortly after the announcement, Pereira told supporters he would contest the result with the country’s Supreme Court.

Guinea Bissau’s outgoing President Jose Mario Vaz failed to win a second term in office when he got just 12 percent of the vote in the November first-round amid widespread allegations of corruption and political infighting.

Embalo, who served as prime minister under Vaz from 2016-18, now faces the difficult task of overcoming a long-running political impasse and modernising the nation of 1.6 million people, which has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Cocaine trafficking transit point

Vaz was the first democratically elected president to complete a full term without being deposed or assassinated since Guinea-Bissau became independent from Portugal in 1974. His tenure has been marred by political insecurity. While there has not been a coup in Guinea-Bissau since 2012, the country has had seven prime ministers appointed since August 2015.

Guinea-Bissau, a nation of around 1.5 million people, has long been beset by corruption and drug trafficking. In the 2000s, it became known as a transit point for cocaine between Latin America and Europe as traffickers profited from corruption and weak law enforcement.

There are signs, however, of increased government action against the drug trade. In September, the government seized more than 2 tons of cocaine in its largest seizure yet, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Ten people were arrested, including three Colombian nationals.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)