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Running again: The president of Guinea-Bissau, Jose Mario Vaz, pictured at a polling station during legislative elections in March. [File photo: AFP/Seylou]
Nineteen candidates, including incumbent Jose Mario Vaz, have filed applications to contest upcoming presidential elections in the crisis-ridden West African state of Guinea-Bissau, according to the official list unveiled on Thursday.
The vote has been pencilled for November 24, although the date is highly uncertain because of a strike in the judiciary, which approves applications.
Vaz, 62, became president in 2014 after elections styled as a new start for an impoverished country that had known only coups and turmoil since the end of Portuguese rule in 1974.
But in 2015, Vaz fell out with the then prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, and fired him, ushering in another crisis.
Vaz’s five-year mandate ended on June 23 but he is staying on temporarily under a mediation plan forged by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Vaz has applied to run again as an independent, as has former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior who was ousted in 2012 in a coup ahead of the runoff in a presidential vote that he had been widely tipped to win.
Another notable applicant is Nancy Schwartz, a prominent sociologist and the only female candidate.
The Supreme Court has three weeks from Thursday to vet electoral applications but the process is likely to be held up by a strike by magistrates to demand better police protection and work condition.
Francelina Pereira, head of the strike committee, said support for the strike was solid, and ‘examining the applications has been put to one side until further notice.’
Pereira is head of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which won legislative elections in March aimed at resolving the crisis.
But Vaz refused the party’s demand that he appoint Pereira as prime minister. Pereira refused to go quietly and repeatedly led protests demanding his reinstatement to the post.
Aristide Gomes, also a PAIGC member, was eventually appointed as caretaker prime minister.
Vaz himself is not being allowed to take part in government under the ECOWAS mediation arrangement.Source: AFP
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