Libreville – The second round of presidential elections in Sao Tome and Principe, a tiny archipelago off the Gulf of Guinea, has been postponed for a second time, the state news agency STP-Press announced on Wednesday.
The runoff was initially scheduled for August 8 but was initially postponed until August 29, and is now rescheduled for September 5 after a vote in parliament.
The country is a former Portuguese colony of 210 000 people that is widely considered a beacon of parliamentary democracy in West Africa.
It opened up to a multiparty system in 1991 after 15 years of single-party rule by a Marxist regime.
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Carlos Vila Nova of the centre-right opposition Independent Democratic Action (ADI) party led the first round of voting on July 18 with 43.3% of the vote.
His opponent for the runoff is Guilherme Posser da Costa of the centre-left Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe (MLSTP) party, who scored 20.7%. His party leads the ruling coalition in parliament.
The timetable for the runoff vote became snarled after the third-placed candidate, Delfim das Neves, filed a petition against the result, alleging fraud. His suit was eventually rejected by the Constitutional Tribunal.
The new date of September 5 is two days after the current president, Evaristo Carvalho, leaves office.
Under the constitution, the speaker of the National Assembly – who is Neves – takes over the vacant presidency until the post is filled by an elected successor.
The president of Sao Tome and Principe has largely ceremonial powers. He or she may arbitrate in political disputes but does not govern.
Sao Tome exports cocoa and coffee and also lives on subsistence farming, fishing and tourism, but it remains overwhelmingly dependent on international aid.
According to the CIA World Factbook, a 2017 estimate found that some 66 percent of the population of Sao Tome lives below the poverty line.
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