President Fonseca eyes second term in Cape Verde vote
Cap Verde's President Jorge Carlos Fonseca attends the funeral ceremony of Guinea Bissau president Malam Bacai Sanha on January 15, 2012 in Bissau. (AFP PHOTO/SEYLLOU)
(AFP) - Cape Verde's President Jorge Carlos Fonseca has a second term within clear reach as the Atlantic archipelago, hailed as a model for African democracy, heads to the polls Sunday without a main opposition candidate.
Fonseca's tour of all nine of Cape Verde's inhabited islands ended Friday after more than two weeks of campaigning with his liberal Movement for Democracy (MFD), which has enjoyed a series of landslide victories this year.
He has called on supporters to "say yes to freedom, justice and Cape Verde" and re-elect him for another five-year term, urging voters not to give in to fatigue caused by other electoral contests held this year.
The MFD's victories in a March general election and municipal polls in September have dealt serious blows to the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), which consequently decided not to field a presidential candidate.
Fonseca, 66, is standing against just two independents: veteran political campaigner Joaquim Monteiro, 76, a key player in the country's fight for independence from Portugal; and university rector Albertino Graca, 57.
With the incumbent polling at around 70 percent, he has a good chance of attaining the absolute majority required to avoid a second round runoff vote.
In 2011, Foseca beat PAICV's Manuel Inocencio Sousawon in a runoff with 54 percent of the vote.
On Friday Foseca promised to "push the government to make economic growth for everyone a priority and to fight unemployment and poverty."
- Exemplary transparency -
African Union electoral observer Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, head of a team of 29 deployed for the vote, told AFP the former Portuguese colony was "an example as regards transparent elections."
Voting opens at 0900 GMT and ends at 2000 GMT. Some 314,000 island residents and 47,000 citizens living abroad are registered to vote.
Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal in July 1975, after an 11-year liberation war, and adopted a multi-party system in 1990.
Khabele Matlosa, Director of Political Affairs at the African Union, said earlier this week the archipelago stood out on a continent where several African leaders "cling on to power for far too long."
Most executive power in Cape Verde resides with the prime minister, whom the president appoints in consultation with parties represented in parliament and taking into account election results.
Other presidential powers include heading the armed forces, promulgating laws, and dismissing a government following a motion of censorship.
The president and members of parliament are elected every five years by universal suffrage.
About half the population of Cape Verde is engaged in agriculture, which provides only 10 percent of the country's food needs, while tourism and remittances from the diaspora are also vital for the economy.
A lack of natural resources and infrastructure mean Cape Verde's economy is fragile, and the country runs a large trade deficit.
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