LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ Cape Verde's prime minister has quit the government after nine years in power to run for president of the West African archipelago, news reports said Sunday.

Carlos Veiga, the country's first democratically elected premier, announced his decision Saturday, the Portuguese daily Publico said.

Presidential elections are scheduled for February 2001, a month after the legislative ballot.

Veiga was replaced by Gualberto Rosario, a 49-year-old economist who last month took over the leadership of the ruling party, the Movement for Democracy, according to Publico.

Veiga was prime minister of Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony 300 miles off the coast of Senegal, since its first democratic elections, held in 1991. He was re-elected in 1996.

The 10-island archipelago gained independence from Portugal in 1975.