Guinea-Bissau votes amid fears of violence
GUINEA - BISSAU: Guinea-Bissau voted to choose between two former
leaders in a presidential run-off on Sunday that many fear could stir
violence rather than restore stability in the West African nation.
Malam Bacai Sanha, interim president from 1999 to 2000, is widely
tipped to beat Kumba Yala, whose record in power between 2000 and 2003
left bitter memories in the former Portuguese colony which has endured
years of coups and political violence.
Already desperately poor and struggling to secure aid money and lure
investors, Guinea-Bissau suffered tit-for-tat assassinations of its army
chief and his arch-enemy President Joao Bernardo Vieira in March.
Sanha won the most votes in a presidential election on June 28 but
fell short of an outright majority. Yala's history of unpredictable
behaviour - he unilaterally declared himself president in 2005,
temporarily seizing the presidential palace - and his close links with
the armed forces have led to calls for restraint.
"We particularly call on the losing party to refrain from taking any
form of violent actions that could further undermine the fragile
stability in the country," two international conflict resolution
organisations said in a joint statement.
Voting was calm, orderly and well-organised in the main, said Johan
Van Ecke, chief of the European Union's observer mission, one of several
international scrutineers, though turnover was similarly low to that of
the first round. Armed forces chief Jose Zamora Induta called on
candidates to respect the outcome of the election, which is expected to
be known by Wednesday.
"The military will not accept any disturbances to the process," he
said, echoing international concerns about the likelihood of the loser
disputing the result.
In an open letter to the candidates, the International Crisis Group
and the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation said any
challenge to the result should be taken to the courts, not onto the