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Guinea Run-Off Set For September


Guinean authorities announced Monday that the second round of its landmark presidential poll will take place September 19. The run-off vote is meant to return the country to civilian rule after a military coup in December 2008.

The first round of voting took place June 27. A run-off between the two top-scoring candidates originally was set for July 18, but many first-round candidates contested provisional results. It was only on July 20 that the Supreme Court overruled those challenges and announced official results.

In the run-off, former prime minister Cellou Dallein Diallo will face long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde.

Some Guineans, including Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore, called for the run-off to be pushed until after the month of Ramadan, which begins Wednesday. Others, including Diallo, had called for the election to take place in August.

Spokesman for Diallo's party, El Hadj Saliou Diallo, says some of the arguments for pushing back the vote - such as the month of Ramadan and the heavy rains seen at this time of year - were correct. He says what is most important now is that this poll date was chosen by consensus.

Guinean election authorities have said they are working to head off logistical challenges and fix irregularities seen in the first round.

Conde's assistant campaign manager, Kiridi Bangoura, says they are pleased with the announced poll date, as it will allow Guinea to correct flaws and dysfunction seen in the first round. He says Condo's concern is to ensure that the vote will be honest and that he who wins the most votes will be named president. Bangor says Conned wants a free and transparent election that will bring true democracy to Guinea, and distance the country from any unrest that could lead to civil war.

Many hope the poll will be Guinea's first free and fair presidential poll since independence and will mark an end to more than 50 years of authoritarian rule in the West African country.

Both candidates have been building coalitions and galvanizing supporters, but many observers say Dial, who led the first round of voting, has a strong chance of winning.


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