Former Guinea-Bissau PM wins presidential election


Former Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister and ex-army general Umaro Cissoko Embalo won Sunday’s presidential election with 54% of the vote, the electoral commission said.

Embalo (47) beat another former Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira in a run-off vote and will succeed incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, whose tenure was marred by political infighting, an ill-functioning parliament and corruption.

Embalo, prime minister under Vaz from 2016-18, faces overcoming a long-running political impasse and modernising the West African country of 1.6 million people, which suffered nine or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Pereira, from the ruling PAIGC party, won most votes in the November first round. Embalo’s candidacy gained support from contenders who failed to reach the run-off, including Vaz.

Other challenges facing Embalo include poverty and an unstable political system in which the majority party appoints government but the president has the power to dismiss it.

There have been seven prime ministers since Vaz in 2014 and political instability hurt the economy, which depends heavily on volatile prices for cashew nuts, the main income source for more than 60% of households.

Traffickers exploit Guinea-Bissau’s unpoliced waters and forested islands as shipment points for cocaine en route to Europe from South America.