Voters in Guinea-Bissau are awaiting the result of last week’s presidential election, with the incumbent Jose Mario Vaz facing stiff competition after five years of political and economic turmoil.
A total of 12 candidates are running, with a former prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, emerging as a front-runner. Guinea-Bissau has had seven prime ministers in the past five years.
Guinea-Bissau has been plagued by military coups and instability since its post-colonial independence from Portugal in 1974. It has been a major hub for cocaine smuggling and suffered nine coups since 1980.
Just last month, it was still unclear as to whether Guinea-Bissau’s election would go ahead. There were coup allegations and military patrols in the country’s capital with many fearing Sunday’s elections would be canceled. The regional bloc ECOWAS intervened to prevent the country from exploding into violence.
President Jose Mario Vaz is the only president since independence to survive a full term without a coup or assassination.
The president’s chief competitor is former Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, one of six prime ministers Vaz fired during his presidency.
Results are expected on Thursday, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two will meet in a runoff December 29.