Presidential election results out in Cape Verde two hours after voting closed

Opposition candidate Jose Maria Neves neared victory in Cape Verde’s presidential election on Sunday, maintaining a comfortable lead over the ruling party’s flagbearer Carlos Veiga with more than 90% of polling stations reporting results.

The results of the highly contested polls became known two hours after voting closed after the election commission deployed electronic forms for transmitting results from voting stations.

Seven candidates were vying to replace Jorge Carlo Fonseca, who has reached the end of his two-term limit in the Atlantic archipelago nation, one of Africa’s most stable democracies.

Neves and Veiga, both former prime ministers, represent Cape Verde’s two main parties.

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The winner will be charged with stabilising the tourism-driven economy after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neves had over 51% of the vote compared to less than 43% for Veiga, who represents Fonseca’s party, according to official results from more than 91% of nearly 1,300 polling stations.

The first-place finisher must secure more than 50% to avoid a second-round run-off. Provisional results must be certified by the national electoral commission in the coming days.

Neves, of the leftist African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), served as prime minister from 2001 to 2016. Veiga, from the centre-right Movement for Democracy (MpD), served from 1991 to 2000.

The economy was the dominant issue of the campaign. It contracted 14% in 2020 as border closures caused by the pandemic cut off Cape Verde’s beaches and mountains from tourists. It is expected to bounce back this year with growth of nearly 6%.

“In the last two years we have had complicated moments with the pandemic,” said Daniel Ferreira, a psychiatrist in the capital Praia, after voting for the 71-year-old Veiga.