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October 22, 2018 | Africa

Guinea-Bissau voter census extended, likely postponing vote

AFP
Guinea-Bissau has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015, when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked his prime minister.  By Xaume Olleros (AFP/File)
Guinea-Bissau has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015, when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked his prime minister. By Xaume Olleros (AFP/File)

A voter census in Guinea-Bissau has been extended by a month, the government said Monday, likely delaying a crucial legislative vote planned for next month.

The vote, seen as a key step towards ending a long-running political crisis in the poor West African country, had been planned for November 18.

However the October 20 end date for an electoral census has now been pushed back to two days after the scheduled election date.

"The deadline for voter registration will now be November 20," the minister of territorial administration, Esther Fernandes, said, adding that electoral law allows for the census to take up to 60 days.

It is up to President Jose Mario Vaz to announce a new election date, she added.

The former Portuguese colony, one of the world's poorest countries, has been in the grip of a power struggle since August 2015, when Vaz sacked his prime minister.

The extension comes after several thousand people on Sunday protested the "lack of transparency" in the census at a march in the capital Bissau organised by some 20 opposition parties.

The census was initially supposed to start on August 23 and last a month, but only began on September 20 due to logistical problems.

Last week, the ministry of territorial administration estimated that about 220,000 voters had been registered -- about 25 percent of the near million voters in the country, which has a population of about 1.7 million.

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