The Supreme Court of Guinea-Bissau has lifted its ban on prominent opposition leader Francisco Fadul contesting next month’s presidential election.
Fadul, the leader of the United Social Democratic Party (PUSD), was initially banned from running in the 19 June election on a technicality when the Supreme Court published a preliminary list of 14 approved candidates last week.
But his name was included on the final list of 17 approved candidates, released by the Supreme Court late on Wednesday. It struck off three of the 21 original nominees and one withdrew his candidacy.
Fadul heads the second largest opposition party in Guinea-Bissau. His PUSD holds 17 of the 100 seats in parliament.
He now joins three other leading candidates who are expected to take the lion’s share of the presidential vote.
These are former president Kumba Yala, who was toppled by a military coup in 2003; former military ruler Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, who is returning from exile in Portugal to contest the election; and Malam Bacai Sanha, the official candidate of the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).
Yala caused a stir last weekend when he withdrew his resignation as head of state, forced on him by the army, and demanded that he be restored as president immediately to complete his term of office.
A demonstration on Tuesday by about 150 of Yala’s supporters to demand the former president’s immediate reinstatement, was broken up by police with tear gas.
Earlier in the day, about 15,000 teachers and pupils had abandoned their classrooms to march through the streets of the capital Bissau in support of peace.
Yala now appears to have softened his stance and accepted that he will not return to the presidency before the holding of fresh elections.
His campaign organisation announced the holding of a rally in Bissau on Sunday at which Yala might be present in his role as “a candidate.”
The formal election campaign is due to start on 28 May.