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ECOWAS Warns Guinea’s Presidential Rivals Against Instability

  • Peter Clottey

Supporters of Guinean presidential candidate Alpha Conde celebrate at his headquarters after it was announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission that the preliminary results showed he had won Guinea's tense presidential election, 15 Nov 2010

Supporters of Guinean presidential candidate Alpha Conde celebrate at his headquarters after it was announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission that the preliminary results showed he had won Guinea's tense presidential election, 15 Nov 2010

A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has warned Guinea’s rival presidential candidates the international community will hold them responsible if their actions or rhetoric lead to chaos and instability.

Sonny Ugoh, communications director for the West African regional bloc, urged the rival parties to use the country’s institutions to address their concerns about the results of last week’s presidential run-off vote.

“We can only advise the parties to allow the CNE [electoral commission] to do its work. If they [parties] want to challenge the outcome, of course, they are perfectly entitled and free to exercise their right, which is allowed under the constitution of Guinea because this route [clashes] they are taking is a recipe for confusion, anarchy and crisis and Guinea, and, indeed, West Africa cannot afford that,” said Ugoh.

Election commission Chief Siaka Toumany Sangare declared opposition leader Alpha Conde won with 53 percent of the vote, while former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo took 47 percent. Guinea's constitutional court must certify the results before they become official.

There has been no reaction so far from either candidate, but they had earlier both claimed victory.

Ugoh urged both candidates to encourage their supporters to desist from engaging in further violence.

“It was unfortunate that the two parties that contested this run-off declared themselves winners because this is one of the consequences of this kind of behavior. When you, unilaterally, announce the results of the election without recourse to the appropriate authority that has responsibility for this job. It creates the atmosphere where the citizens now take the laws into their own hands,” said Ugoh.

Earlier Monday, security forces in the capital, Conakry, clashed with pro-Diallo protesters. Witnesses say police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths who were throwing rocks and burning tires.

Election observers and Guinea's military leaders have repeatedly called for all parties to accept the election results.

But, Diallo said Sunday he would reject the results if they included two districts where his party said pre-election violence helped hold down his vote totals.

The violence in the cities of Siguiri and Kouroussa drove thousands of people from Diallo's ethnic group, known as the Peul, or Fulani, from their homes. Diallo's party also alleges large scale fraud in the November 7 poll.

International observers have said the voting appeared to be free and fair.

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