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Senegal Calls for Guinea to Honor Electoral Promises


Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is calling for Guinea's military ruler to keep his promise to hold elections later this year.

When Army Captain Moussa Camara took power in Conakry seven months ago, he telephoned Senegalese President Wade and asked him to be the international spokesman for his coup.

With the United States and European Union condemning the military take-over, President Wade said Captain Camara was an honest young man filling a dangerous vacuum following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte. Mr. Wade said the ruling military council deserved international support because it was promising to hold free and fair elections.

So the Senegalese leader has worked to make sure that those elections happen. In a weekend meeting with Captain Camara in Conakry, President Wade urged him to hold to his promises and respect his obligation to organize free elections acceptable to all.

Mr. Wade said he is ready to help Guinea as it moves toward distributing electoral cards before legislative elections scheduled for October 11th. The first round of presidential balloting is scheduled for December 13th with a second round, if necessary, December 27th.

Captain Camara has repeatedly said neither he nor any members of the ruling military council will stand as candidates in those elections.

On taking power, Captain Camara said elections could not be held before 2010 because the country's "territorial integrity could be compromised." But he eventually agreed to a vote this year following talks with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States as well as a coalition of Guinean political parties, labor unions, civil society groups, and religious leaders.

Last month, Captain Camara's chief of staff urged him to delay the vote because the military council has begun projects that have not been finished. In a televised appeal, Colonel Oumar Sanoh said the people of Guinea want the military ruler to extend his time in office.

Captain Camara responded by saying the vote would go ahead as scheduled because he signed a commitment to have elections in 2009 and that will not change.


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