Vieira finally claims victory.

 
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Joao Bernardo Vieira has finally taken up the post of president of Guinea Bissau after a series of post-electoral difficulties. The final round of voting was held at the end of July but the ruling Partido Africano da Independencia da Guine e Cabo Verde (PAIGC) had refused to acknowledge the defeat of its candidate, Malam Bacai Sanha. Now, however, the PAIGC, which governed from 1975 until 1999, has agreed to recognise Vieira's victory.

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Sanha had earlier commented: "The long time it has taken the election commission [to announce the results] leads us to believe that it was indeed the PAIGC that won the elections and our victory has been stolen," but his party appears to have changed its stance.

The electoral commission has adjusted the results of July's presidential run off. Vieira's share of the vote was reduced from around 55% to 52%, leaving 48% for Sanha, but the change does not make any substantive difference in the first past the post poll. European Union (EU) monitors commended the running of the election.

Vieira ruled Guinea Bissau for almost 20 years until his overthrow in 1999. He said before the election: "I can consider that if I am elected that the people have forgiven me ... for the mistakes I may have made during my mandate." He will now have to work alongside the PAIGC prime minister, Carlos Gomes.

It is hoped that the confirmation of the election result will help Guinea Bissau establish some form of stability. The country has suffered from a series of coups since the army first stepped in to oust Vieira.

Military rule ended with the election of Kumba Yala to the presidency but he too was overthrown, in a coup in 2003. Yalla stood in the first round of this year's election but failed to secure enough votes to reach the run off.

A calm and stable Guinea Bissau would also have a positive impact on developments in the wider region and particularly in the Casamance region of neighbouring Senegal. Guinea Bissau has long played a...

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