Guinea-Bissau votes to replace president

July 26, 2009 at 7:08 AM

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau, July 26 (UPI) -- Voters in Guinea-Bissau went to the polls Sunday for a run-off election to replace assassinated President Joao Bernardo Vieira, officials said.

Vieira was killed in March by soldiers allegedly seeking to avenge the death of the West African country's military chief a day earlier.

Sunday's runoff was between two former heads of state, Kumba Yala and Malam Sanha, the candidates who won a first round of balloting June 28, CNN reported.

Yala took office in 2000 and was unseated three years later in a military coup. Sanha served as interim president for several months months before

Yala's term.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the world's poorest countries with a population of 1.5 million people. It gained independence from Portugal in 1974 and has seen a series of military coups backed by a thriving international drug trade, CNN reported.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Sunday expressed hope the election would be a turning point to consolidate peace, his office said in a statement.

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