Bissau - Guinea-Bissau's presidential election is to go to a second round on August 2 between Malam Bacai Sanha and Kumba Yala, two former heads of state, the head of the National Electoral Commission said on Thursday.

Eleven candidates, including three former presidents, ran in the first round on June 28 to replace assassinated leader Joao Bernardo Vieira in the coup-prone former Portuguese colony of 1,3 million people.

Sanha served as interim president from June 1999 to May 2000 and was candidate for the long-dominant African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which already controls 67 of the 100 seats in the national assembly.

Yala's time in office between 2000 and 2003 was marked by wide fiscal mismanagement and sweeping arrests of opposition figures until he was brought down in a coup.

Provisional results of the first round, which was marked by one of the lowest turnouts on record, gave Sanha 39,59 percent of the vote, followed by Yala with 29,42 percent.

Third was Henrique Rosa, another former head of state, with 24,19 percent.

Electoral commission chief Desejado Lima Da Costa said the first round had been conducted in an "orderly and civic" manner, and thanked foreign countries for their aid.

Observers from the European Union said on Wednesday that the election was "well organised, peaceful, free and transparent" with no irregularities or major incidents.

But they suggested the turnout was low because of a climate of "fear and intimidation" in the wake of Vieira's murder and the subsequent killings of top politicians by the army.

Vieira, who ruled Guinea-Bissau for much of the past quarter century, was killed by soldiers on March 2 in apparent revenge for the death of army chief, General Batista Tagme Na Waie, in a bomb attack.

On June 5, former territorial administration minister, Baciro Dabo, a candidate in the election, and former defence minister Helder Proenca were killed by soldiers amid allegations that they were plotting a coup. - Sapa-AFP