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Yala Wins Guinea-Bissau Presidency

January 22, 2000

LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ Elections officials in Guinea-Bissau have confirmed populist opposition leader Kumba Yala’s landslide presidential win, news reports said Saturday.

Yala, 46, learned Friday that he had clinched 72 percent of the vote in the Jan. 16 runoff race against Malam Bacai Sanha, Portuguese state radio RDP said. The official results were released by the National Electoral Commission.

Yala’s Social Renewal Party threw a victory bash late Friday in the capital Bissau, the radio said. Yala has made no public statement about his victory, RDP said.

The ballot was first held in November along with legislative elections. The Social Renewal Party clinched 38 key seats in the 102-seat National Popular Assembly, Guinea-Bissau’s Parliament.

The second-round voting, which had none of the widespread delays and isolated riots that marred the first round, was ``an exercise of great political maturity,″ said Higino Cardoso, president of the electoral commission, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa.

The elections were a key step toward restoring normalcy to the former Portuguese colony of 1.1 million people after a devastating 11-month conflict. The civil war culminated in President Joao Bernardo Vieira’s ouster last May.

Fighting broke out in the coastal capital in June 1998 and then spread inland after a breakaway military faction, which was to gain broad support among the population, rebelled against Vieira’s allegedly corrupt rule.

Vieira came to power in a 1980 coup and was reinstated after defeating Yala in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

The former president currently lives under political asylum in Portugal.

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