US praises peaceful polls in Guinea-Bissau

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IOL pic apr14 guinea bissau election Reuters A man casts his ballot at a polling station in Bissau. Voters in Guinea-Bissau began casting their ballots on Sunday to elect a new president and lawmakers in an election meant to draw a line under a 2012 military coup that plunged the West African nation into chaos. Picture: Joe Penney

Washington -

The United States on Tuesday praised the holding of successful elections in Guinea-Bissau as an “important step” towards a better future after years of political instability and violence.

Almost three-quarters of eligible votes cast their ballots in the watershed polls which were the first to be held in the West African nation since a 2012 military coup.

“These elections are an important step toward building a more stable, prosperous, and democratic future for the Bissau-Guinean people,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The US “congratulates the people of Guinea-Bissau on the successful completion of peaceful and orderly first-round elections”.

The polls were “a powerful testimony of the strong desire of the people of Guinea-Bissau for constitutional and democratic government”, Psaki added in her statement.

And she praised the country's security services for “their professional conduct on election day, which aided citizens in expressing their will without intimidation”.

“The United States looks forward to working with Guinea-Bissau as it seeks to return to democratic rule and to achieve lasting peace in the region,” the spokeswoman added.

“We urge the country's leaders, both civilian and military, to hear the voice of their people and bring the political transition period to a successful conclusion.”

Guinea-Bissau has seen four decades of chaos, marked by a series of mutinies since the West African nation won independence from Portugal, and commentators have called for the new regime to finally bring the military into line. - Sapa-AFP



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