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Guinea Presidential Candidate Says Local Officials Campaigning for Rival

Candidate for the Guinean presidency Cellou Dalein Diallo smiles to the crowd, 27 Jun 2010

Candidate for the Guinean presidency Cellou Dalein Diallo smiles to the crowd, 27 Jun 2010

The front-runner in Guinea's presidential runoff says some local officials are unfairly campaigning for his rival ahead of this month's vote.

Cellou Diallo won more than 40 percent of ballots in Guinea's first round of presidential voting. So he is considered the front-runner in this month's runoff, especially as he has expanded his political coalition to include former rivals.

But in campaigning for the September 19 election, Diallo says some local government officials are unfairly favoring his opponent, Alpha Conde, who won just over one-quarter of the first-round votes.

Diallo told reporters in Conakry that his party objects to some local officials and governors openly demonstrating their preference for the other candidate. He says that is not fair because all Guineans expect the administration to be neutral. No one in the transitional government is allowed to be a candidate in this election. So Diallo says their obligation to remain neutral must be respected.

Guinea's Ministry of Territorial Administration and Political Affairs this week issued a circular reminding local officials that they must remain impartial in this contest.

The ministry's role in this vote is a source of political controversy in Conakry because interim prime minister Jean-Marie Dore wants it to play a bigger role to help the electoral commission overcome first-round problems that included too few polling stations in remote areas.

The military decree establishing the rules for this election empowered the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Political Affairs to give "technical assistance" to the electoral commission.

Prime Minister Dore wants acting military ruler General Sekouba Konate to issue another decree specifying the extent of that assistance. Opponents say there is no need for another decree and accuse the prime minister of trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.

Hadja Mame Camara is the electoral commission's vice president. She says the commission, the transitional government, and the candidates are all trying to improve the process.

Camara says the electoral commission is dispatching thirteen inspection teams, each of which includes representatives from the electoral commission, the Ministry of Territorial Administration, and both of the candidates. Those teams will examine existing polling stations and consider establishing new polling stations where needed.

Camara says the inspection teams will help bring polling stations closer to voters. She says the electoral commission now has 462,000 new, electronically-secure voter cards to replace the temporary papers that were used in the first round of voting.

This is an election meant to return Guinea to constitutional order after nearly two years of military rule. General Konate is warning soldiers to stay out of the process and respect the country's democratic transition.