BISSAU, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Guinea-Bissau's presidential election kicked off on Sunday at 7 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), with 12 candidates competing for presidency.
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 12 candidates included incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who was expelled from the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), as independent candidate, and Domingos Simoes Pereira, the PAIGC candidate.
The election is seen as the last step to end the existing political crisis that burst in 2015 between Vaz and his main political rival Pereira.
The term of Vaz should have ended at the end of June, but the heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed that he would stay as president of Guinea-Bissau until the presidential election.
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, unauthorized vehicles should stay off the roads 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.
If no one receives more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round, a run-off is scheduled for Dec. 29.