May 23, 2016 / 3:38 PM / a year ago

Deputy chief of Sao Tome's ruling party to run for president

Sao Tome (Reuters) - The vice president of Sao Tome’s parliamentary ruling ADI party, Evaristo Carvalho, will run for president in elections scheduled for July 17, his spokesman Domingo Boa Morte said on Monday.

The 74-year-old former parliament speaker will make a formal announcement on Tuesday, Boa Morte said. It will be his second attempt at the presidency after narrowly losing out to president Manuel Pinto da Costa in a run-off in the last elections in 2011.

Evaristo joins former prime minister Maria da Neves, who announced her candidacy last week. Neves also ran in 2011 but came fifth with 14 percent of a first round vote.

It is so far unclear if President Pinto da Costa will run for a second term. Pinto da Costa, a 74-year-old economist by training, also ruled the former Portuguese island colony as a single-party state from independence in 1975 until 1991.

The tiny country, officially named Sao Tome and Principe, is located in the Gulf of Guinea offshore from Gabon. It has 19 oil exploration blocks in its exclusive economic zone and an additional joint exploration zone with Nigeria.

Despite being in the center of a resource-rich region, it has yet to find any commercially viable oil.

Sao Tome’s economy will grow five percent this year, up from four percent last year, the International Monetary Fund said in March, boosted by increases in cocoa production and tourism.

Reporting By Ricardo Neto; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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