Four candidates fight Cape Verde's presidential elections

Campaigning continues to lead former Portugese colony
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The Independent Online

Two former prime ministers - one an ex-guerrilla fighter and the other a Lisbon-educated lawyer - are the favored candidates in Cape Verde's presidential election on Sunday, according to news reports.

Two former prime ministers - one an ex-guerrilla fighter and the other a Lisbon-educated lawyer - are the favored candidates in Cape Verde's presidential election on Sunday, according to news reports.

The four candidates running for head of state staged a final day of campaigning ahead of tomorrow's official day of reflection when campaigning is forbidden, the Portuguese new agency Lusa reported.

A fifth candidate, former diplomat and university lecturer Onesimo Silveira, withdrew today, admitting he had no chance of winning, Lusa reported.

The group of 10 islands 360 miles off the West African coast is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the United Nations. Cape Verde is a former Portuguese colony.

Carlos Veiga, a 51-year-old lawyer, stood down as prime minister last year after two consecutive terms in order to stand for president. He led the Movement for Democracy Party to victory in 1991, when the country held its first-ever elections, and was returned in 1995.

However, his party lost last month's general election to the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde, or PAICV, a formerly Marxist party which once ruled Cape Verde as a single-party state.

The PAICV's candidate for president is Pedro Pires, a former guerrilla fighter against Portuguese rule who was premier for 15 years until democracy was introduced.

Cape Verde has 262,000 registered voters. A candidate must win 50 percent plus one vote to be elected. If no candidate achieves that, a run-off ballot between the two candidates who polled most votes will be held on February 25.

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