The opposition Independent Democratic Action (ADI) party won Sunday's general election in the West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe but did not get an absolute majority, the chairman of the national election commission announced.
The party of ex prime minister Patrice Trovoada won 26 of the 55 seats up for grabs, commission chief Jose Carlos Barreiros told news agencies. He added that the official results would not be known for a few days.
The ruling Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe,Social Democratic Party (MLSTP/PSD),headed by Prime Minister Rafael Banco, came second with 21 seats, Barreiros said.
The Party of Democratic Convergence (PCD), a member of the ruling coalition with the MLSTP, was third with seven seats while the Force for Democratic Change Movement/Liberal Party (MDFM PL) of President Fradique de Menezes got just one seat.
Turnout in the polls, where nearly 80,000 of the poverty stricken archipelago's 175,000 inhabitants were eligible to vote, was nearly 88% , Barreiros said.
With the ADI failing to secure a majority and its natural ally the MDFM PL only securing one seat, the exercise of power looked problematic. The current coalition does have an absolute majority in parliament.
Former foreign minister Trovoada, who was premier for three months in 2008, is expected to be appointed prime minister after the results are validated by the supreme court.
Since it became democratic in 1991, Sao Tome and Principe has had 14 prime ministers at the head of various governments, often crafted from fragile coalitions. No coalition has lasted the parliamentary term.
The country relies mainly on fishing and subsistence farming, and is one of the few in the Gulf of Guinea that has not yet developed an oil industry, although this year it invited tenders for drilling in 19 areas.