Two Guinea-Bissau ex-premiers through to presidential runoff

Supporters of presidential candidate Umaro Sissoko Embalo carry his picture and gesture along a road, ahead of Sunday’s presidential election in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Christophe Van Der Perre

BISSAU (Reuters) – Two former Guinea-Bissau prime ministers advanced on Wednesday to next month’s presidential run-off, the electoral commission said, with incumbent Jose Mario Vaz finishing a distant fourth after a tenure marked by infighting and corruption scandals.

Domingos Simoes Pereira finished first with 40% and Umaro Cissoko Embalo came second with 28% in the Nov. 24 first-round poll, commission president Jose Pedro Sambu told reporters.

They will face off in a second round on Dec. 29.

Vaz, who has governed the tiny West African country since 2014, only received 12% of the vote.

He has regularly feuded with the majority party in parliament and cycled through seven different prime ministers.

Critics say Vaz, 61, failed to control corruption or stem the flow of drugs through the cashew-producing country on their way from South America to Europe.

Pereira, 56, was Vaz’s first prime minister before being sacked in 2015. He campaigned as a moderniser whose promise to bolster health and education made him popular with younger voters in Bissau.

Embalo, 47, also served as prime minister under Vaz from 2016-18.

Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice and Aaron Ross; Editing by Edward McAllister and Andrew Cawthorne

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