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Sao Tome elects new president after incumbent boycotts poll

Voters in Sao Tome and Principe have elected a new head of state. The only candidate to stand in a runoff boycotted by the incumbent president was former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho.

Evaristo Carvalho

Evaristo Carvalho

Carvalho, the favourite from the start of the campaign, is supported by Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada, whose Independent Democratic Action (ADI) party holds a majority in the national legislature. Executive power is shared between the president and the prime minister.

In the first round of voting on July 17, Carvalho was judged to have won the 50 percent needed for an outright win, but election officials revised his tally to 49.8 percent and the share of 79-year-old President Manuel Pinto da Costa to 24.83 percent, after which Pinto da Costa announced he would not contest the second round, suggesting the voting had been rigged.

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Carvalho on Sunday called on "all residents of Sao Tome and Principe to exercise their right to vote" and confirm his first-round victory.

"I hope the electoral process is completed in calm and peaceful conditions," Carvalho told journalists. He accused Pinto da Costa of "pulling out to avoid losing the election."

Turnout was reportedly low. Turnout on July 17 was 64.31 percent of a total electorate of 111,222 in a country of barely 200,000 people.

Sao Tome and Principe comprises two archipelagos located 300 kilometres (190 miles) off the coast of Gabon.

Pinto da Costa had governed since 2011, after ruling the country as a single-party state from independence in 1975 until 1991. Carvalho finished runner-up in 2011 and is the vice president of Sao Tome's parliamentary ruling ADI party.

jbh/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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