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Guinea-Bissau vote seen as fair

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau, March 20 (UPI) -- Though violence followed the vote, presidential elections in Guinea-Bissau were seen as free and fair, a British election observer said.

Guinea-Bissau is expected to announce the winner of a presidential contest Wednesday. Ian Paisley, a British lawmaker who observed the vote, said the election appeared to have met international standards.

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"We have covered six out of seven regions," he was quoted by The Guardian newspaper in London as saying. "What we have seen has been free and fair."

Around 500,000 eligible voters reportedly turned out to cast ballots in a weekend presidential contest featuring nine candidates. Among the candidates was front-runner Carlos Gomes, the country's wealthiest man; former President Kumba Yala; and former transitional President Henrique Rosa.

The British newspaper notes that none of the country's elected leaders has finished a term, succumbing to ailments, assassinations or military coups.

In late December, the top navy commander in the country, Rear Adm. Bubo Na Tchuto, was detained following what some authorities said was a coup attempt. The U.N. mission there said military officers attacked an army headquarters to steal weapons.

Col. Samba Diallo, the country's former military intelligence chief, was killed after the Sunday election.

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