BISSAU (AFP) —
A UN special envoy said Monday that parliamentary elections held in Guinea Bissau had been a «victory for democracy» in the poor west African nation that is a haven for drug traffickers.
"Yesterday was a milestone for Guinea Bissau, " said Shola Omoregie during a meeting with international observers monitoring the vote.
"Without the contribution of each one of you and the commitment of the people of Guinea Bissau, the elections yesterday would perhaps not have been so clearly a victory for democracy, " the UN envoy said.
"The elections were conducted on the whole in a transparent and orderly manner without any political or military interference, " he added.
The first results are expected to be released in a few days.
The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has been dominant since independence from Portugal in 1974, is favourite to win the election.
More than 150 international observers monitored Sunday's election for 100 deputies in the former Portuguese colony of 1.3 million people.
The head of mission for the Economic Community of West African States, which sent 49 observers, called the vote a «demonstration of the people's political maturity.»
"The abundance of voters was very impressive, " said Leopold Ouedraogo of the 15-state regional body. «The election agents demonstrated a remarkable competence. The vote was peaceful and free and the count transparent.»
The eight-million-dollar (six-million-euro) cost of the elections was mostly paid for by the international community. Voting was seen as a key stage toward escaping political instability a decade on from an 11-month civil war in 1998-1999.
Experts say drug traffickers have free reign in the tiny nation because of the weak government and lack of effective law enforcement.
Since President Joao Bernardo Vieira returned to power in 2005, the country has had three different prime ministers.