Carlos Vila Nova, the former infrastructure minister of Sao Tome and Principe, has won the country’s presidential election runoff, defeating the ruling party’s nominee in the postponed poll.
This is according to provisional results announced by the country’s National Electoral Commission.
The Portuguese-speaking nation elected the centre-right opposition Vila Nova, who will now work with a left-of-centre government.
According to the Sao Tome Press Agency and the national radio, Vila Nova of the Independent Democratic Action (ADI) received 57.3 per cent of the vote, while his opponent, former Prime Minister Guilherme Posser da Costa, who was backed by a coalition of the ruling party, received 42.46 per cent
NEC, in a statement, declared Vila Nova the winner. But a constitutional tribunal has a week to validate the results and hear any challenges.
Vila Nova, 65, will replace 79-year-old Evaristo Carvalho, who did not seek re-election to the largely ceremonial office for a second five-year term.
The president has largely ceremonial powers, authorised to arbitrate in political disputes but not to govern. It is the Prime Minister who controls power, currently Jorge Lopes Bom Jesus of the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe (MLSTP), which won elections in 2018.
Vila Nova, 65, is a telecommunications engineer with a relatively low public profile.
He worked as a civil servant until 1988 when he left to pursue a career in tourism before entering politics, serving as minister of public works from 2010 to 2012 and then minister of infrastructure and environment from 2014 to 2018.
He was elected to parliament in 2018.
Sao Tome exports cocoa and coffee and relies on subsistence farming, fishing, and tourism, but it is still heavily dependent on international aid.
According to the World Bank, about one-third of the population lives on less than the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, and more than two-thirds are classified as poor.
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