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Activist Says Guineans Hopeful of Legitimate Election Outcome

  • Peter Clottey

Guineans line up to cast their ballot at a polling station in Conakry, Guinea, 07 Nov 2010

Guineans line up to cast their ballot at a polling station in Conakry, Guinea, 07 Nov 2010

A human rights activist said Guineans are anxiously awaiting the results of Sunday’s presidential run-off vote between former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde.

Thierno Balde, president of Guinea’s Research Institute on Democracy and the Rule of Law, a non-governmental organization, said the election was largely peaceful, despite reports of minor logistical challenges at some polling stations.

“I think one of the differences this time compared to the first round is the fact that the members of the (electoral commission) at the polling stations had more training, which (made) it more organized. At the same time, here in Conakry, we have seen issues which were not the cases for the first round like, in some of the polling stations, there were not enough envelopes or there was a lack of voting ballot (papers).”

After several delays, Guineans voted Sunday in a presidential runoff vote, designed to return the country to civilian rule. Four-point-two million Guineans were eligible to vote Sunday’s run-off vote.

Balde said Guineans expressed relief following the peaceful vote after several delays.

“Most Guineans (are concerned) that we will be able to get results which can be accepted by all the political parties and really start a new life because people have been waiting for more than 50 years and now they are eager to find out (if) their vote counts, and they can choose freely their president without any oppression. This is the first time they can really do so.”

Balde said, despite anticipated fears of violence, Sunday’s vote was peaceful and without any reported incident.

The election had been postponed four times since July because of logistical problems, political disputes, and election-related violence. The two candidates belong to Guinea's two largest ethnic groups, and they have been accused of using ethnic rhetoric to appeal to their voter base.

Ahead of Sunday's poll, acting president General Sekouba Konate warned the army would not tolerate any more violence. Mr. Diallo won the first round of balloting in June with 44 percent of the vote. Mr. Conde was second with 18 percent.

The presidential election is meant to end more than 50 years of authoritarian rule in Guinea. A military junta seized power in 2008, after the death of longtime president Lansana Conte.

Original junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara went into exile after being shot and wounded by an aide late last year. His successor, General Konate, established the current transitional government. He and other interim leaders were not eligible to run in the election.