Cabo Verde’s National Electoral Commission, CNE, has commended the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) for supporting the country’s political progress, including by always deploying observers to monitor and report on its elections.
“Your presence and the reports of your observation missions have helped us in addressing identified challenges and filling the gaps in our electoral process,” CNE Chair, Maria do Rosário Pereira Gonçalves told ECOWAS and AU observers at a briefing in Praia on Thursday, ahead of the country’s presidential election on Sunday.
She noted that since its independence from Portugal in 1975, Cabo Verde had successfully conducted six multiparty elections, adding that the seventh on Sunday would produce the country’s fifth president.
“Your support makes us feel at ease as we go through this electoral process in a challenging circumstance,” said Dr Gonçalves, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a recent resurgence in the country.
In comparison to other countries, Cabo Verde has relatively lower figures of infections (37,951), including 347 deaths as of October 14. But the authorities are not taking any chances. CNE urges strict observance of health protocols including physical distancing, hand sanitizing, masking up and voting time has been extended from 6 am to 7 pm.
Dr Gonçalves requested the audience to observe a minute silence in honour of Dr Amadeu Luiz Barbosa, the former vice-President of the five-member Electoral Commission, who died from COVID complications last May.
In paying tribute to her late colleague, the CNE boss reiterated her pledge that Sunday vote would be an improvement on previous electoral processes in the country.
She said the Commission looked forward to the reports of International Observer groups for the consolidation of democracy in Cabo Verde, the ECOWAS region and Africa as a whole.
ECOWAS is deploying a 51-member Observation Mission led by Niger’s former Interim President Salou Djibo, while the AU’s 40 observers are led by Ambassador Israel Gasper Martins, Angola’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Cabo Verde, an Archipelago made up of 10 islands and five islets has 398,864 registered voters from an estimated 550,000 population.
Seven candidates are contesting Sunday’s election, including two former Prime Minister-frontrunners – Carlos Veiga, 72, supported by the ruling Movement for Democracy, MpD and a breakaway Democratic and Independent Cabo Verdean Union, UCID, while Jose Neves, 61, is supported by the opposition African Party for the Independence of Cabo Verde, PAICV.
If none of the candidates scores the constitutionally requirement of 50% +1 vote on Sunday, the two with the highest tallies will go into a run-off battle on October 31.
The ECOWAS Resident Representative in Cabo Verde, Dr Samuel Lamptey was among dignitaries that attended the CNE briefing.