Sao Tomé & Principe
Rival political blocks on Sao Tomé to form coalition govt

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afrol News, 15 March - After the confirmation of the political stalemate between the two leading political blocks of Sao Tomé and Principe after the 3 March legislative elections, realpolitik has returned to the archipelago. The two blocks are to form a coalition government.

The official results on the legislative elections confirmed the fears of both blocks that none had been given a decisive popular mandate to form a government. The former majority party of the islands, the MLSTP, obtained 39.63 percent of the votes. This was equalled by the MDFM/PCD block, supported by President Fradique de Menezes, which obtained 39.46 percent of the votes. Only 68 single votes differentiated the two blocks, which obtained 23 seats each in Parliament.

Thus, the whole raison d'être of the election had been undermined by the Sao Toméan electorate. The early poll had been called for to determine whether President Menezes could go through with naming a government based on a parliamentary minority (based on the MDFM/PCD block) and ignore the MLSTP majority - powers granted him by the constitution but impossible to enforce as the MLSTP started boycotting parliamentary sessions. 

The stalemate between the two blocks therefore led to the establishment of a coalition government this week, as observers had predicted. According to an agreement between the two blocks, they are to establish a government with four ministers going to MLSTP and five ministers going to the MDFM/PCD block. The smaller party UE-KEDADJI (16.4% of the vote and 9 parliamentary seats) is to remain outside the coalition. 

The appointment of the Prime Minister will be left to the President to decide. The new Prime Minister, together with the President will then also decide upon the appointments of the remaining ministers, namely of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Defence, according to the agreement between the two blocks. 

The two blocks have been ruling the island nation in a government of national unity since the constitutional crisis in December last year, and the announcement of the early elections. This was a situation both had hoped to avoid to continue with.

Last week, both party blocks announced they were the real winners of the elections, winning 24 parliamentary seats. The final results published by the National Electoral Commission however uncovered that the two blocks had won 23 seats each.

A total of 40,000 Sao Toméans had voted in the 3 March elections, according to the final official results recently published by the National Electoral Commission. This represented 65.62 percent of the country's electorate, a fairly low number in Sao Toméan elections. This is probably due to the recent presidential elections (July 2001) and to the abstract issue behind the elections, mostly seen as a sluggish power struggle within the political elite of the country.

Source: Based on RDP, MLSTP and afrol archives

© afrol News.

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