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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July, 2005, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Bissau awaits presidential result
Woman voting in Bissau
Many voters said they hoped for an end to the turmoil
Votes are being counted in Guinea-Bissau after the second round of the presidential election.

Malam Bacai Sanha, who won most votes in June's first round, voiced hope for a new era as he voted at the weekend.

His rival, former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira, said he was confident of winning and urged a high turnout.

Both candidates have pledged to end years of political instability. Voting was "calm and organised", European monitors said.

Former President Kumba Yala, who was ousted in a 2003 coup, failed to win enough votes to make the run-off.


Lines of people formed outside polling stations as soon as they opened.

"I hope the new president will be capable of guaranteeing the Bissau-Guinean people peace, stability and national reconciliation," Antonio Fernandes, 31, told the Associated Press news agency before casting his ballot.

"The country needs development and progress."

Malam Bacai Sanha (R) and former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira
The two candidates have said they will respect the result

Interim President Henrique Rosa urged people to unite.

"We can't miss this chance, because it's our future that's at stake," he said at a news conference, urging people to vote.

"We all must unite to be able to forgive each other and wipe the slate clean."

The first results are expected within a week.

There were some disturbances during campaigning, and one person was killed when police opened fire on Kumba Yala's supporters protesting against his failure to make the run-off.

An attack by gunmen on the country's presidential palace and interior ministry also raised tensions ahead of the poll.

Guinea-Bissau won independence from Portugal in 1974, but has had a chequered history of coups and military dictatorships ever since.

Malam Bacai Sanha's PAIGC party ruled the country from independence until it was overthrown by Mr Vieira in 1980.

Mr Vieira then won presidential polls in 1994, but was himself overthrown in 1999 as the country descended into civil war.

Q&A: Guinea-Bissau poll
17 Jun 05 |  Africa
Bissau government promises calm
16 May 05 |  Africa
Amnesty for Bissau coup-makers
12 Apr 04 |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea-Bissau
17 Jul 04 |  Country profiles

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