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Cape Verde Chooses the Opposition as New Leader

Opposition candidate and former Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves won Cape Verde’s presidential election on Sunday, as his main rival, the ruling party’s flagbearer Carlos Veiga, conceded defeat. Neves, 61, who served as prime minister from 2000-2016, will inherit the responsibility for stabilising the Atlantic archipelago nation’s tourism-driven economy after the COVID-19 pandemic drove it deep into recession. Neves had 51.7 percent of the vote based on official results from 99.4 percent of polling stations, ahead of Veiga with 42.4 percent. Five other candidates all won less than 2 percent each. The transfer of power will be the fourth between the MpD and PAICV since independence from Portugal in 1975, consolidating Cape Verde’s status as one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Neves will have to work with a prime minister from the MpD after the party maintained its parliamentary majority in an April election. His first challenge will be the economy, which contracted 14 percent in 2020 as border closures caused by the pandemic cut off Cape Verde’s beaches and mountains from tourists. It is expected to bounce back this year with growth of nearly 6 percent.