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Former Prime Minister's Lead Narrows in Guinea Presidential Election


The president of the Guinean Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) gives partial results of the second-round of the presidential election, in Conakry, 10 Nov 2010

The president of the Guinean Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) gives partial results of the second-round of the presidential election, in Conakry, 10 Nov 2010

New results from Guinea's presidential election show an increasingly close race between a former prime minister and a long-time opposition leader. The vote is meant to return Guinea to civilian rule nearly two years after soldiers took power.

Results from districts representing nearly half of Guinea's registered voters show former prime minister Cellou Diallo ahead of opposition politician Alpha Conde by fewer than 100,000 votes.

Many of the first returns came from areas where Mr. Diallo was expected to do well. The race has tightened with the addition of results from districts where Mr. Conde has strong support,reducing Mr. Diallo's lead from about 60 percent of the vote to about 53 percent of the vote.

Both campaigns are arguing the numbers of this race even before the final returns are announced because they know that in a close contest, eliminating results from even a handful of polling stations could make the difference between winning and losing.

The Conde campaign is challenging results from expatriate voters in Guinea-Bissau and from several polling stations in the Fouta Djallon region. The Diallo campaign has written the electoral commission asking for the exclusion of results from more than 100 polling stations in Matoto, Kaloum, Matam, Dabola, Kindia, and Ratoma.

The biggest dispute centers on voting in Siguiri and Kouroussa where thousands of members of Mr. Diallo's ethnic group were driven from their homes in pre-election violence.

Foday Fofana, a spokesman for the Diallo campaign, says everyone in Guinea knows that Diallo supporters were forced to leave the area. He says the Diallo campaign was only able to post representatives at a fraction of the polling stations. And in some of those, he says the number of people who voted exceeded the number of voters registered.

Francois Lounceny Fall, a spokesman for the Conde campaign, says it is unfortunate that the Diallo campaign continues talking about annulling the vote in Siguiri and Kouroussa. Fall says the Diallo campaign agreed to post representatives at all polling stations there to ensure the vote was fair. He says there is no reason to annul those returns because electoral commission president Siakai Toumany Sangare guaranteed the ability of all displaced people to vote by opening special polling stations for them.

Sangare says the electoral commission has not responded to requests to annul the results from Siguiri and Kouroussa because it has not yet examined those returns. He promised to do so Friday.

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