- Two Cape Verdean election delegates for current President Pedro Pires have been sentences to prison terms for election fraud during the country's 2001 presidential polls. Mr Pires had won the election with a margin of only 17 votes.
The court of the Santa Catarina County on the Island of Santiago has sentenced two out of three accused of "election crimes" during the second round of the 2001 polls to prison sentences.
The two presidential aides had, according to the judgement, manipulated the ballot box of the Entre Picos de Reda district, removing ballot papers and inserting votes in favour of Mr Pires. They were sentences to respectively 16 months and 10 days prison, while a third accused was found to be innocent.
According to the judgement, the two sentences Pires campaigners were guilty of "major election fraud" by manipulating the ballot box. The court had found it proven that the vote riggers had managed to insert 11 ballot papers of non-existing voters. President Pires had won the second poll round with a margin of only 17 votes.
The issue of vote rigging has been a hot potato in Cape Verde since the first round of the 2001 presidential polls, where Mr Pires was said to have won with only 533 votes ahead of his rival Carlos Veiga. Irregularities led to a second poll round.
Several election fraud sentences have since then been made by Cape Verdean courts. In January this year, the Supreme Court of Cape Verde sentences four person to one and a half years of prison for rigging the 2001 poll on the island of São Nicolau while counting the ballot papers.
Two poll rigging cases still are before Cape Verdean courts. One case involves inserting false ballot papers on the island of Fogo, while another case involves the issuing of false medical attests of voters.
Vote rigging had been made in favour of both candidates, but neither Mr Pires nor Mr Veiga has been accused of being behind the locally organised fraud. It is assumed decisions had been taken locally.
Meanwhile, the Cape Verdean opposition is concerned vote rigging could again occur during the local elections to be arranged next year. Prime Minister José Maria Neves already has been accused by the opposition of preparing fraudulent elections.
Mr Neves earlier this year promised the local polls would be normally organised "with full transparency" and there was "no risk of fraud" to take place. Opposition leader Agostinho Lopes however holds government has "not provided enough resources and materials" to assure parties and voters were to be treated equally.
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