Cape Verde votes in presidential run-off

DVBP937 4 P 0399 CPV /AFP-VD93 CapeVerde-vote Cape Verde votes in presidential run-off PRAIA, Aug 20, 2011 (AFP) - Cape Verdeans voted Sunday to elect a new president of the archipelago, which has experienced a decade of economic growth under Pedro Pires but remains vulnerable with meagre natural resources. Cape Verde has become one of Africa's most prosperous and stable countries by flaunting its natural beauty to a growing crowd of tourists from nearby western Europe, but remains highly dependent on international aid. The presidential run-off got under way at 8:00 am (0900 GMT) and voters will choose between the candidates of the two parties that have dominated the political scene of the former Portuguese colony for the past two decades. Going into the run-off, main opposition Movement for Democracy (MFD) candidate Jorge Carlos Fonseca, a former foreign minister, has the upper hand, having won over 37 percent of votes in the first round. His rival Manuel Inocencio Sousa, minister of infrastructure, transport and maritime affairs from the ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), had 32 percent. Cape Verde is a parliamentary democracy whose president plays a ceremonial role. In an interview with AFP, Fonseca said: "I hope to be elected on Sunday to contribute to the modernisation of society and build a stronger democracy." The 60-year-old, who lost a presidential bid in 2001, said his main concern is poverty, which affects over 130,000 of the 500,000 citizens living on the islands. "There is also unemployment which affects more than 45,000 youths, there is an acute regional disparity ..." Unemployment is seen as one of the reasons more Cape Verdeans live abroad (700,000) than at home. Sousa also played up the need to modernise the state and "transform the economy" of the archipelago, which depends mostly on tourism and the service sector. He admitted both candidates had campaigned on similar issues, however told AFP, "he (Fonseca) is from the right and I am from a socialist party. I want a presidency closer to the people... with Fonseca it's an institutional presidency." Some 305,000 citizens have registered to vote, and there are 899 polling stations on the islands and 241 abroad, the national electoral commission said. Polls close at 6:00 pm (1900 GMT). bur-fb/gk AFP 211004 GMT AUG 11