5 September 2011, Sao Tome – Manuel Pinto da Costa has been sworn in as the president of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe for a five-year term.
The swearing in ceremony for the new president took place on Saturday during a special session of the country’s National Assembly, where he swore to respect the Sao Tome and Principe’s laws and to promote social development.
Sao Tome and Principe is Nigeria’s co-owner of the oil-rich area in the Gulf of Guinea straddling the two countries’ maritime borders in the Atlantic Ocean popularly known as the Joint Development Zone (JDZ).
President Goodluck Jonathan other Nigerian dignitaries to the event which was also attended by South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Angolan Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos and Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Invitees from Brazil, Portugal, Morocco, Taiwan, and China also witnessed the inauguration.
Pinto da Costa, who takes over from the outgoing President Fradique de Menezes, contested as an independent candidate in the country’s last election held on 7 August 2011.
He won the recent poll with 52.88 per cent of votes, beating Evaristo de Carvalho, the candidate of the ruling party Independent Democratic Action, who scored 47.12 per cent of votes.
He was born 5 August 1937, and was educated as an economist in the German Democratic Republic. He is fluent in both Portuguese and German. He also maintained extensive relations with Angola and the country’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos; a friendship that dates back to their youthful age. The new Sao Tome and Principe president did not contest the country’s first election held under a democratic system in 1991, where opposition parties were legalised to file in candidates. Instead, Pinto da Costa announced he would retire from politics. His MLSTP party did not present an alternative candidate and Miguel Trovoada was elected unopposed.
Despite his previous declaration, Pinto da Costa returned to contest elections in 1996, where he garnered 47.26 per cent of the vote, but was narrowly defeated by Trovoada. In 2001, he ran against outgoing President Menezes, who won a majority in the first round. Pinto da Costa was elected leader of the MLSTP in May 1998. He resigned from the party in February 2005 and Guilherme Posser da Costa was elected to succeed him.