afrol News, 16 June - The government of the Republic of Sao Tomé and Principe yesterday announced the official date for the country's coming presidential elections to be 29 July this year. The decision was made in a presidential decree by President Miguel Trovoada.
The announcement was made on President Trovoada's arrival in the capital Sao Tomé after a 15 days visit to Europe, which had brought him to France and former colonial power Portugal. Arriving in Sao Tomé, Trovoada stated on a press conference that the official visit had been a success, opening for a deeper cooperation between Sao Tomé and France and Portugal. The President however did not give any details on new cooperation projects that might have been agreed on while in Europe.
However Trovoada mentioned that the presidential election date had been an issue discussing with his colleagues in Paris and Lisbon. Trovoada's second five-year term as Sao Toméan President expires in July this year.
According to a statement by the president of the national election Commission, Fernando Makengo, the commission does agree to the date set by the government. Makengo assured that the commission would be able to organise the elections by the date set.
65-years-old President Miguel Trovoada has not announced his candidature for the July elections. Trovoada's centrist party, the Independent Democratic Action (ADI), is the largest opposition party in the Sao Toméan parliament after the leftist Liberation Movement of Sao Tomé e Principe (MLSTP) won 31 of the 55 seats in the 1998 elections.
Sao Tome and Principe has been a multiparty democracy since 1991, when free and fair presidential elections first brought Trovoada, a former prime minister who had been in exile since 1986, to power. According to international observers, both the following 1996 presidential elections and the 1994 and 1998 legislative elections were free and transparent. In 1996, Trovoada only assured his re-election in the second round, where he achieved 52 percent of the poll.
Voter participation has exceeded 80 percent in all Sao Toméan elections since democracy was introduced, demonstrating this small country's (population: 135,000) interest for politics. Except for a short-lived military mutiny in 1995, Sao Tomé and Principe generally has experienced political tranquillity and economic growth during Trovoada's ten years of governance.
The recent discovery of offshore oil, to be exploited together with Nigeria, are set to make the forthcoming presidential term a rewarding task, as welfare on the small island state is believed to increase significantly.