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Early Returns Show Close Race in Guinea Presidential Election

Guinean election officials tabulate some election results at Matoto's city hall in Conakry, Guinea, 09 Nov 2010

Guinean election officials tabulate some election results at Matoto's city hall in Conakry, Guinea, 09 Nov 2010

Early returns from Guinea's presidential election, about 10 percent of votes reported, show a close race to chose a civilian leader after nearly two years of military rule.

Former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo holds a slight lead over long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde.

Mr. Diallo won most of the expatriate vote reported from 12 consulates abroad, giving him more than 167,000 votes compared to more than 156,000 votes for Mr. Conde, who won the districts of Kaloum, Dixinn, Fria, Coyah and Boffa.

Turnout on Sunday was around 70 percent in a country with more than four million registered voters. The first announcement of early results have helped ease tensions here.

Siaka Toumany Sangare is the electoral commission president.

Sangare says the electoral commission is announcing partial returns to preempt the spread of misinformation.

Mr. Diallo and Mr. Conde are from Guinea's two largest ethnic groups. Supporters of the two men clashed in Conakry and other cities in the weeks before the vote. Security forces have been on alert since Sunday's election to prevent further clashes.

Before the vote, Mr. Diallo and Mr. Conde pledged to accept the results. Election observer John Stremlau of The Carter Center says that as the returns are announced, the two men must not back away from their promise.

"We want to hold the candidates to their words. This has been an intense campaign, and it should be an intense campaign. [U.S.] President [Jimmy] Carter fought a very strenuous campaign on two occasions. He won in the first race and he lost in the second [for the U.S. presidency]. And like General Gowon, he has gone on to a life of great humanitarian service. He would be the first to say there is life after politics. These two experienced politicians have given us their word that they will accept the results. And we should hold them to that," he said.

The Carter Center says both candidates and their supporters should honor their commitment to a peaceful transition of power and, if necessary, use only legal challenges to contest the outcome of the vote.