A voter casts his ballot at a polling station in Bissau, capital of Guinea-Bissau, on Nov. 24, 2019. Guinea-Bissau's presidential election kicked off Sunday with 12 candidates competing to become the west African country's president for the next five years. (Xinhua/Xing Jianqiao)
BISSAU, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Guinea-Bissau's presidential election is set to take place this Sunday with 12 candidates competing to become the west African country's president for the next five years.
According to the numbers given by the president of the National Election Commission (NEC) Jose Pedro Sambu, 761, 676 voters, same number as for the legislative elections of March 10, are called to cast their ballot during Sunday's election in 3, 139 polling stations across the country and overseas.
The vote is set to kick off at 7 a.m. local time, and finish at 5 p.m. local time.
A total of 12 candidates will compete for the presidency, including the incumbent president Jose Mario Vaz, expelled from the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) , as independent candidate, and Domingos Simoes Pereira, the PAIGC candidate.
A political confusion reigns in Guinea-Bissau where the upcoming presidential election is seen as the last step to end the existing political crisis that burst in 2015 between President Vaz who dissolved the then government led by Domingos Simoes Pereira, his main political rival.
Last month, Vaz sacked the Prime Minister Aristides Gomes in a presidential decree on Oct. 28. The decision was rejected by Gomes, who said he will not respect an "illegal" president, since the term of Vaz should have ended at the end of June.
However, during a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS agreed that Vaz would stay as president of Guinea-Bissau until the presidential election, but the management of the country would be entrusted to its Prime Minister Aristides Gomes.
On Friday, Jose Pedro Sambu declared all the conditions are met for Sunday's presidential election to take place "peacefully" and without "incidents".
He also urged voters to vote en masse Sunday and called on the 12 presidential candidates not to "abdicate the right" to place one delegate and one substitute at each polling station.
In order to guarantee the order of the country during the election, about 6, 500 defense and security agents are already mobilized to assure the vote. From Sunday midnight, the circulation of vehicles without authorization will be prohibited and all the air, terrestrial and maritime borders will be closed.
About 200 observers from the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the ECOWAS and the United States, and 422 observers from civil society will follow the process of the voting very closely.
Since its Independence from Portugal in 1974, the west African country has been struggled through political crisis, with only Vaz finishing a five-year term as president.
This year's presidential elections will be held on Nov. 24, with a second -round scheduled for Dec. 29 if no one receives more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round.