Cape Verde ruling party maintains grip on power

Ruling Movement for Democracy party is expected to hand Ulisses Correia e Silva a second five-year term as prime minister.

Prime Minister of Cape Verde Ulisses Correia e Silva interacts with vendors at the Plateau market in Praia, after his victory in the 2021 parliamentary elections [Seyllou/AFP]

Cape Verde’s ruling party has maintained its control of the legislature after an election dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The West African archipelago nation’s electoral commission announced formal results on Monday.

Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva’s Movement for Democracy (Mpd) won 37 out of 72 seats in the national assembly, giving the party an absolute majority, according to the commission. The 58-year-old had already claimed victory on Sunday evening after results showed his party had won 36 seats.

The African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), a socialist party that was the MpD’s main contender, won 29 seats.

The archipelago of 550,000 people lying around 950 kilometres (600 miles) off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde is hailed as a bastion of democracy in Africa.

Border closures during the coronavirus pandemic have cut off its beaches and mountains from the tourists that normally flock there.

The economy shrank by 14 percent in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is expected to grow by 5.8 percent in 2021. There have been 20,466 COVID-19 infections and 192 COVID-related deaths, Johns Hopkins University data shows.

“This is a victory of justice, a fair victory for what we have done and what we have faced during these last five difficult years, with three consecutive years of drought and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Silva told the media on Sunday evening.

PAICV leader Janira Hopffer Almada, who had hoped to become the country’s first woman prime minister, conceded defeat on Sunday evening and said she would step down as party leader.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from Cape Verde’s capital Praia, said that it was up to Silva to put words into action, as he has promised jobs and to jump-start the economy.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, the prime minister admitted his country is facing unprecedented challenges.

“With three years of severe drought, the worst of the last 37 years impacting the life of families and the farming sector, add to that, more than a year of pandemic and we faced the worst economic and social health crisis in Cape Verde that we’ve ever experienced,” Silva said.

“Still we manage to protect companies, jobs and protect people’s income.”

Haque said the people of Cape Verde see in the ruling party’s slogan “a steady path, hope for change in their circumstances, and the country’s future”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies