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TOPSHOT - An electoral worker sorts ballots during the counting of votes for Guinea-Bissau's presidential runoff on December 29, 2019, in Bissau. - Guinea-Bissau voters casted their ballots in a presidential runoff on December 29 with the hope of…

Former army general and ex-Prime Minister Umaro Cissoko Embalo said on Monday he was on course to win Guinea Bissau's presidential election and his opponent urged the nation to await official results.

An Embalo victory over Domingos Simoes Pereira, another former prime minister and the candidate of the ruling PAIGC party, would be a turnaround from November's first round, in which Pereira comfortably won the most votes.

The two competed in Sunday's run-off to replace incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who was eliminated in the first round.

Vaz's five-year term was marred by regular political sackings, an ill-functioning parliament and high-level corruption, and voters said they hoped the next president would restore calm to the West African nation.

Official results are not expected until Wednesday and the electoral commission has not commented on the vote count.

A man prepares to cast his ballot at a polling station during the second round of Guinea Bissau's presidential election in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau Dec. 29, 2019.

Embalo campaign spokesman Djibril Balde said the victory claim was based on campaign tallies of preliminary results its observers had compiled in each region.

Surrounded by a group of cheering supporters outside his campaign headquarters, Embalo told Reuters that Pereira had earlier called to congratulate him on his win.

In a tweet, Pereira said: "A lot of fake news is circulating, but only official numbers can be respected."

He did not say specify what he considered fake news and campaign officials were not available for comment.

Embalo, 47, came second in last month's first round vote with 28% versus 40% for Pereira. Ahead of Sunday's run-off, Embalo won the backing of incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz, who received 12%.

As a candidate, Embalo vowed to modernize the country of 1.6 million people, which has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Embalo and Pereira both served as prime ministers under Vaz, who had a total of seven premiers amid a protracted feud with the PAIGC.

The political instability hurt Guinea-Bissau's economy, which depends heavily on volatile prices for cashew nuts, the main income source for over two-thirds of households.

Wheelchair basketball is growing in popularity in South Sudan, offering hope for athletes with disabilities, some of whom lost legs from unexploded ordnance left from decades of conflict.

U.S. professional wheelchair basketball players, including Sudanese American Malat Wei, this month helped 80 South Sudanese players take part in a week-long training program and tournament.

Wei is a wheelchair athlete who lost the use of his legs to polio in South Sudan when he was only three years old.

When Wei was 12, after living in a refugee camp for several years, his family moved to the United States, where he eventually played wheelchair basketball at the University of Arizona.

In December, he returned to South Sudan as a role model for other disabled athletes.

"I went through the same situation that these athletes are going through. So as for me coming back, it's a hope for them saying there is someone who actually cares about us,” Wei said.

This month,Wei helped train 80 South Sudanese wheelchair basketball players for a two-day competition in Juba.

The training was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the South Sudan Wheelchair Basketball Association.

Wei says that in two years, the number of players has more than doubled, and this year, 15 women were included for the first time.

Anna Doki Gabriel, who had never played basketball before, talked about the goal of this training and competition.

Gabriel says, "For me as a person in a wheelchair, basketball has really made me feel that we can do something just like able-bodied people."

Conflict and poverty in South Sudan have marginalized more than 1.2 million people with disabilities, including some who lost legs from unexploded ordnance remaining after decades of conflict.

Disability and inclusion adviser for the ICRC, Jess Markt, has trained wheelchair teams in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South America. He says the training works to change negative perceptions of people with disabilities.

"Once they start to have that confidence in themselves and they start to realize that maybe what they've always been told about what their place in society should be is not what their place in society should be, that they should expect more from themselves and from the society around them,” Markt said.

Wei says inclusion and acceptance isn't all these athletes learn, “These athletes are all from different tribes. But when they come to the basketball court the sport just brings this joy of all the South Sudanese uniting together to collaborate and work together as one country."

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