Sao Tome & Principe President Calls for Early Elections

Fradique de Menezes, president of Sao Tome and Principe dissolved the parliament on Tuesday and wants to hold new elections. This came about because of the dispute over the right to negotiate oil exploration deals. The new elections would be held on April 13, 2003, three years early. The next legislative election was not scheduled until 2006.

President De Menezes is trying to renegotiate some oil contracts his predecessor signed with Nigerian, U.S. and Norwegian companies after the World Bank told him the contracts were unfair to Sao Tome. But deputies recently proposed changing the constitution to trim the president's powers and give parliament more of a say over the oil sector. De Menezes vetoed the proposal last week.

The former Portuguese colony is located approximately 160 miles from Gabon and has reserves estimated at approximately 4 billion barrels.