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Campaign Begins in Guinea's Presidential Elections

Campaigning kicked off in Guinea this week in the country's first presidential election since a military coup in 2008.

Guinea officially launched campaigning Monday for the country's presidential poll, planned for June 27th, amid calls for calm from Guinean authorities and the international community.

It is a time of tenuous transition for the resource-rich West African country, and there are fears of violent clashes between supporters of opposing political parties.

In Conakry Monday, Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore explained rules for assembly during the campaign. He said all demonstrations and meetings should be pre-authorized by the government not only to prevent traffic jams but also to preclude any violence that could derail the overall electoral process.

Imagine, the prime minister says, if two rival groups of supporters of equal numbers took to the same street and met each other. We could find ourselves in a difficult situation, he says, but who is going to handle it? If some supporters were to be injured, he says the government could be accused of being biased. He says we need to avoid confrontations like this so the vote can be just, transparent and credible. Nothing, he says, should get in the way of good electoral process.

Next month's presidential poll is meant to return the country to civilian rule following a military coup in 2008. It is being organized by a transitional government that has the support of the international community.

A joint mission by the African Union, the United Nations, and the Economic Community of West Africa States was in Conakry Monday as part of ongoing, periodic meetings to support Guinea in security reform and the holding of elections.

The group launched an "urgent call" to all Guineans to exercise moderation and restraint to ensure a peaceful vote.

The group's president, Ibrahima Fall, says they urge political parties and all others participating in the electoral process to place peace, togetherness and national unity above all partisan considerations and to abstain from all acts that could compromise the transition process.

Though Monday marked the official launch of the campaign, voter cards have not yet been distributed and the candidate registration process is still under way.