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Voters: Guinea Election Process Needs Refining

Electoral officials sort out ballot papers at the end of presidential elections in Conakry, Guinea, Oct. 11, 2015.

Electoral officials sort out ballot papers at the end of presidential elections in Conakry, Guinea, Oct. 11, 2015.

Days after Guinea’s second democratic presidential election, the final results still have to be tabulated. But many Guineans, along with international observers, say the poor West African country must improve how it conducts voting.

President Alpha Conde was leading his seven challengers on Friday, based on preliminary results released by Guinea’s electoral commission from 22 of the country’s 33 prefectures. At least 80 percent of the votes had been counted since Sunday’s election.

Guinea’s opposition has already alleged fraud and called for the election’s annulment. Conde's main opponent, Cellou Dalein Diallo, pulled out of the election Wednesday, declaring it a "farce." It was unclear whether his withdrawal would force a second round of voting.

International observers from the European Union said they had not seen fraud in the election. But they complained about a number of voting irregularities, such as delays in opening the polls and disorganized voter rolls, both of which caused long waits for voters.

Process questioned

People in Conakry echoed those views. Student Ismael Sylla said he isn’t fully confident that his vote counted.

Sylla said he knew many people who didn’t receive a voter card, required to cast a ballot. At his polling station, people were waiting to cast ballots until 9 p.m.

Hotel keeper Sylla Fatimata also said she knew of people who hadn’t received voting cards. She said Sunday’s voting process was less organized than the 2013 legislative elections. She said she hopes the electoral commission will be better prepared for the next election.

A spokesman for the country’s electoral commission was not available to comment on Friday.

In its preliminary assessment of the vote, the European Union said officials of the ruling Rally of the Guinean People party, or RPG, used state resources during their campaigns, violating the electoral code.

The opposition also has accused the president of distributing money to buy votes. Ahmed Traore, a spokesman for Conde's party, said handouts are expected of the leader when he visits communities but none were substantial enough to sway voters.

"When he visits the communities, he gives envelopes,” Traore said. “That envelope cannot buy the brain … cannot buy the conviction of the people."

The elections could get messier still. The opposition is expected to call for demonstrations and perhaps challenge the results in court if Conde wins.