In a major upset for the ruling party, opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo has won the presidential election runoff in Guinea-Bissau, picking up 53.55 per cent of votes, the National Electoral Commission (CNE) announced Wednesday.
His rival Domingos Simoes Pereira, head of the country’s historic ruling party PAIGC, took 46.45 per cent in Sunday’s runoff, a reporter said.
“I declare Umaro Sissoco Embalo to be the winner of this second round,” CNE President Jose Pedro Sambu said. The new president belongs to Madem, an opposition party formed by PAIGC rebels.
Embalo takes over from Jose Mario Vaz, who came to power in 2014 on hopes of stabilising a country notorious for coups and assassinations since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974.
But his tenure was hampered by a paralysing faceoff with parliament under the country’s semi-presidential political system.
The CNE put turnout at 72.67 per cent, virtually identical to the first round of voting on November 24, which Pereira won with 40.1 per cent against 28 per cent for Embalo.
Embalo, 47, is a reserve brigadier general who favours wearing a red-and-white Arab keffiyeh headdress.
Like Pereira, he is also a former prime minister, serving under Vaz between 2016 and 2018, before representing Madem, a party formed by PAIGC rebels.
He fought to overcome his first-round vote deficit by portraying himself as a unifier of the country and by gaining the backing of eliminated candidates, including Vaz.
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