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Guinea's Opposition Considers Protests Over Perceived Flaws in Voter List

Opposition leaders in the West African nation of Guinea say they continue to have concerns about the voter list expected to be used in legislative elections scheduled for later this month. A spokesman for a coalition of opposition parties said leaders were considering street protests.

Parliamentary elections in Guinea have been postponed repeatedly since initially being scheduled for December 2011. Much of the disagreement has centered on the composition and conduct of the electoral commission.

The elections are now scheduled for September 24. They are seen as the final step in Guinea’s transition from military dictatorship to civilian rule. Former opposition leader Alpha Conde of the Malinke ethnic group won a close presidential election in 2010.

The country has not held legislative polls since 2002.

Tensions between the Malinke and Peul ethnic groups led to rioting in the capital, Conakry, last year. This year has seen repeated protests from the opposition, which is made up primarily of members of the Peul.

Earlier this week, Aboubacar Sylla, spokesman for the opposition Alliance for Democracy and Progress, gave the national electoral commission 72 hours to fix problems with the voter list. Sylla has said the list did not adequately represent the number of voters in the country’s opposition strongholds.

On Thursday, the commission provided the opposition with an electronic copy of the list, but Sylla said this was insufficient.

He said, “Yes, we received the list from the commission, but that’s not what we were asking for. The list contains 5,094,000 names, and it’s in the form of a document that is more than 250,000 pages. What we want is to verify these names. We wanted them to distribute the list in the various villages so that the people could check for themselves.”

Moustapha Naite, a spokesman for President Conde’s ruling party, told The Associated Press that protest threats from the opposition were merely an attempt by the opposition to delay the vote.

He said the opposition was worried that it would lose even in areas that have traditionally been their strongholds.

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