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Guinea Presidential Candidates Call for Calm After Vote Delay

Police patrolling the streets of Conakry after violent confrontations between supporters of the two rivaling candidates, 24 Oct 2010

Police patrolling the streets of Conakry after violent confrontations between supporters of the two rivaling candidates, 24 Oct 2010

Guinea's presidential candidates are calling for calm after violence between their supporters following the indefinite postponement of an election that was scheduled for 24 October.

Former prime minister Cellou Diallo and long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde are both urging their supporters to stay calm after looting in the capital and the intervention of security forces to separate the rival camps.

Conde says he has launched an appeal to all militants and supporters of his political rainbow coalition to stay calm and refrain from violence or attacks on Diallo supporters because that will help lead to the creation of conditions for elections as soon as possible.

Diallo says his alliance will continue to work to apply the tenets of an accord reached in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, that commits both candidates to asking their supporters to act with a sense of responsibility to preserve the precious peace and unity of the country.

The latest round of violence began even before the vote was canceled. Diallo says many of his supporters were attacked on their way home from a rally in the capital Thursday night. About the same time Friday that the electoral commission was announcing the vote's postponement, dozens of Conde supporters fell ill after drinking water at their rally.

Conde supporters say they were poisoned. Diallo supporters say that is absurd. Conde supporters attacked and looted some shops owned by members of Diallo's ethnic group. In protest, many of those shops were closed over the weekend and will stay closed on Monday.

The new head of Guinea's electoral commission, former Malian general Siaka Toumani Sangare, says he understands the level of political tension in the country but believes it would have been worse to go ahead with a poorly-planned poll, the results of which would be questioned.

So he says he is working to quickly create the conditions for an acceptable vote on a reasonable and realistic date.

Diallo says a transparent vote must be held as soon as possible. He believes Guinea's interim military ruler, General Sekouba Konate, is ultimately responsible for determining that election date, along with General Sangare. Diallo says his alliance wants the conditions for a free election established quickly so the people of Guinea can freely choose their leader.

The spokesman for Conde's political alliance, Francois Lounceny Fall, says it should not take that long. He adds that Conde supporters have confidence in General Sangare and believe the election should be rescheduled for next Sunday, 31 October.

This, however, seems unlikely given the long-standing problems of distributing voting materials, the more than 10,000 people still waiting to receive their voter cards, and the shortage of cards for expatriate voters in Sierra Leone and Gambia.