Guebuza to lead AU observers to Sao Tome and Principe poll

    Mozambique's former President Armando Guebuza. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

    Former Mozambique President Armando Guebuza will head the Africa Union (AU) observer team to polls in Sao Tome and Principe scheduled for Sunday, his office confirmed.

    According to the office, Mr Guebuza will head a 25-member team representing the continental union.

    The team includes members of the AU permanent representatives committee, the Pan-African parliament members and NGOs representatives working in fields of democracy, governance and elections across the continent.

    Mr Guebuza was chosen because of his vast experience in peace and democracy in Africa, his office quoted an invitation letter from the AU.

    The former president Monday met with the Sao Tome and Principe’s National Electoral Commission head, Mr Alberto Pereira.

    Mr Guebuza ruled Mozambique for 10 years till October 2015 when his second term of office ended.

    He headed the AU observer team to the polls in Tanzania early this year.

    Five candidates are in the race for the Sao Tome and Principe presidency.

    Other contenders

    They include current President Manuel Pinto da Costa, an MP Evaristo Carvalho and parliament’s deputy Speaker Maria das Neves.

    The other contenders are Prof Manuel do Rosário and economist Hélder Barros.

    President da Costa, 79, ruled the country between 1975-1991 and returned to power again after winning 52.8 per cent vote in a run-off poll in the August 2011.

    According to VOA Radio, President da Costa’s main challengers are Mr Carvalho and Ms Neves.

    Two islands

    President da Costa is running on the MLSTP-PSD (Sao Tome and Principe Liberation Movement, Social Democrat Party) ticket and is supported by the Union for Democracy and Development party.

    Mr Carvalho lost the 2011 election to President da Costa.

    Ms Neves is a former Prime Minister and is running on the Democratic Movement Force for Change ticket.

    Sao Tome and Principe is a Portuguese-speaking nation, consisting of two islands.

    Least populated

    It lies off the north-western coast of Gabon and is Africa’s second least populated country after Seychelles.

    The country gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

    It’s main exports are cocoa, copra, coffee, sugar, bananas and palm oil.

    Sao Tome and Principe recorded the highest improvement of all the countries graded on the 2015 human development index.