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Day of Reflection Before Sunday's Vote in Guinea-Bissau


Voters in Guinea-Bissau go to the polls Sunday for a presidential election. Eleven candidates are running to succeed long-time leader Joao Bernardo Vieira who was killed by mutinous troops four months ago.

Presidential candidates wrapped up their campaigns with big rallies in the capital Friday, promising economic development and stability in one of the world's poorest countries with a history of army mutinies and coups.

Saturday is an official Day of Reflection in Guinea-Bissau for voters to consider all they have heard over the last weeks of campaigning.

So what are they thinking ahead of Sunday's vote?

This man in the eastern town of Gabu says he has not chosen a candidate. He listens to what the candidates say and will decide on election day. Candidates talk and talk, he says, but they have not shown him any platforms or written documents about what they will do if they win.

This secondary school teacher says she will vote for independent candidate Henrique Rosa because she believes he will bring solutions to Guinea-Bissau. When I finish work, she says, I want to have a good life.

She says she does not like how the leading opposition candidate Kumba Yala speaks badly about other people. When he was president from 2000 to 2003, she says civil servants were not paid for nine months. Now Yala is coming to ask for their votes. During his time in office, she says she came to work hungry and it was hard to teach.

At a Yala rally in the city of Bafata, this supporter says the former philosophy professor has what it takes to lead the country.

For me, he says, Kumba Yala is very important for Guinea-Bissau because he best knows the problems of Guinea-Bissau.

At a rally outside the capital for ruling-party candidate Malam Bacia Sanha, this supporter says Sanha has the experience to unite the country.

"Malam Bacai Sanha is man who has a lot of political experience," he Sanha. "Not only does he have experience in the armed struggle, he was a teacher. And he went to study political science in Eastern Germany."

"He came back and has had many different positions. He was the governor for two different regions. He was administrator. He was secretary-general of the trade union. He was the president of the national parliament. He was the interim president. And he is a very calm man. He has a lot of compassion for our people," he added.

No candidate is expected to win an outright majority in Sunday's first round of voting, meaning the top two finishers will meet again in a runoff to restore constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.

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