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Guinea-Bissau's Former Military Ruler Wins Election

In Guinea-Bissau, the country's election commission says provisional results from Sunday's runoff presidential election show former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira is the winner. But there has been increasing violence in the streets as Mr. Vieira's rival says he rejects the results, calling them fraudulent.

Sunday's election in Guinea Bissau was viewed by many as a way to end years of coups and political instability. But protesters angry over the results are already taking to the streets.

The electoral commission said that Joao Bernardo Vieira took about 55 percent of the vote, compared with 44 percent for his opponent, Malam Bacai Sanha.

According to the country's election law, the electoral commission has seven to 10 days to receive the results and make a final decision. And, each candidate has two days to present documents to the commission protesting the results.

Meanwhile, protesters continue to fill the streets. Alain Mballow, a journalist covering the election in the country's capital, Bissau, said that shortly after the results were announced, backers of the two candidates clashed in the streets of the capital.

"Security forces are all over the city, but that cannot help to avoid some confrontation between the militants. Nobody can really avoid this kind of violence among them," he said.

The ballot was held amid hopes a new president, the country's first since a 2003 military coup, would bring stability to the small, impoverished nation. Mr. Vieira seized power in a 1980 coup and ruled for 19 years until his ouster in the midst of a civil war.

Mr. Sanha led a transitional administration after Guinea-Bissau's 1998-1999 civil war.

Guinea-Bissau has suffered coups, army revolts and civil strife since it won a 12-year war against former colonial ruler Portugal and gained independence in 1974.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, told VOA earlier this week that his agency will remain in Guinea-Bissau to help it through its transition.

"I want to assure you that ECOWAS will remain here in Guinea Bissau," he said. "We have an office here which will stay open because we have to consolidate the gains that have been made and lay the foundation for democracy and, bring about the much needed reforms that are required in this country - particularly in the security sector [and] public service reform - and kick start [revive] the economy."

The elections went to a second round after a first vote in June in which no candidate won an outright majority. Another former president, Kumba Yala, initially rejected the results showing he had come third in the first round. He eventually said he would accept them.