Former Guinea-Bissau PM Umaro Sissoco Embalo wins presidency

BISSAU, GUINEA-BISSAU (AP) — A former prime minister of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, has won the country’s presidential elections, the electoral commission announced on Wednesday, as the losing candidate vowed to contest the results in court.

The 47-year-old former army general won the December 29 runoff with about 54 per cent of the votes, the commission said. He beat another former prime minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, who had come out ahead in the initial round of voting, but last Sunday earned just 46 per cent of the vote, according to the commission. Embalo, however, garnered the support of other candidates who did not make it to the second round.

Embalo will succeed incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who also failed to reach the second round of voting. Embalo served as prime minister under Vaz from 2016 to 2018.

Vaz, in power since 2014, has vowed to respect his defeat in a rare gesture of political stability. In a tear-filled New Year’s speech, he urged the new leaders to work toward stability.

Vaz is the first democratically elected president to complete a full term without being deposed or assassinated since Guinea-Bissau became independent from Portugal in 1974. His tenure has been marred by political insecurity. While there has not been a coup in Guinea-Bissau since 2012, the country has had seven prime ministers appointed since August 2015.

Umaro Sissoco Embalo. PHOTO: AP