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Date: 07/02/2011

Cape Verdeans began voting Sunday in parliamentary elections across the archipelago. Lauded as one of Africa's success stories, Cape Verde is a 2 party democracy where tourism and infrastructure are growing quickly.

Polling stations opened at 0900 GMT and were to close at 1930 GMT, with first results expected about an hour after the closure.

Some 310,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots to fill 72 parliamentary seats.

The main contesters are two political parties that have dominated the political scene of the former Portuguese colony for the past two decades.

Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves, 50, of the socialist African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde has been in power for a decade and is seeking to extend his mandate for another five years.

His opponent is Carlos Veiga, 61, leader of the liberal Movement for Democracy who led the country from 1991 to 2001.

Races have always been tight between the two and no clear favourite has emerged before the election. The publication of polls is banned by law.

Cape Verde is a parliamentary democracy whose President Pedro Pires has held his ceremonial role since 2001. The country has the distinction of having more nationals living abroad (700,000) than at home (500,000).