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Guinea's Interim Leader Wants New Decree Before Second-Round Vote

Guinea's acting president General Sekouba Konate, left, speaks with Prime Minister of the transitional government Jean Marie Dore during the inauguration ceremony of Camp Boiro in Conakry, 26 Jun 2010

Guinea's acting president General Sekouba Konate, left, speaks with Prime Minister of the transitional government Jean Marie Dore during the inauguration ceremony of Camp Boiro in Conakry, 26 Jun 2010

Guinea's interim prime minister wants a new decree from the country's military leader that would give the transitional government a bigger role in next month's second round of presidential voting. Some political leaders, however, fear the prime minister is trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.

Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore said a bigger role for his transitional government in September's second round of voting will resolve some of the logistical problems that plagued June's first-round vote.

The prime minster said his transitional government will assume its constitutional responsibility in the second round of voting. He said that's because in the first round, people said his government was responsible for deficiencies in the process, while they generally said that the electoral commission did a good job.

Mr. Dore says that is not how it happened. The prime minister says many people in Guinea's remote forest region did not vote in June because the polling stations were too far from which to walk to or ride their bicycles. The electoral law says no one should have to travel more than five kilometers from their home to vote, but some polling stations were more than 200 kilometers away.

He says some polling stations did not receive ballots until late that afternoon, and even then only after a military plane was dispatched to deliver the ballots. This is all because of what Mr. Dore said were failures by the electoral commission.

Candidate Cellou Diallo finished first in Guinea's opening round with nearly 40 percent of the vote. He will now face second-place finisher Alpha Conde in September's run-off.

Kiridi Bangoura is Alpha Conde's campaign director. Bangoura supports the prime minister's call for a greater electoral role for the transitional government. He said the reality is that the electoral commission has neither the human resources nor the territorial capacity to organize elections in a country as big as Guinea.

Bangoura said the same electoral code that established the electoral commission states that all the ministries of the transitional government should be involved in the process, especially the Ministry of Territorial Affairs. Bangoura said what is important now is determining what kind of involvement the government should have in the second round of voting. He says that involvement should be regulated by a new decree that will allow the electoral commission to ask the transitional government for help.

Some Cellou Diallo supporters accuse Prime Minister Dore of trying to rig the second round in favor of Alpha Conde. The prime minister said he has no favorite among the men and is just trying to improve the electoral process.

But in response to the political outcry, Dore has backed away from trying to amend the constitution or electoral code and is now asking simply for a military decree clarifying the extent of the "technical assistance" his government is meant to give the electoral commission.

Oury Bah is vice president of Cellou Diallo's political party. He said political parties must determine whether Prime Minister Dore's proposal to more deeply involve his transitional government in the second round of voting is consistent with electoral law and the constitution. Bah said it is a better idea to establish a permanent, consultative framework with political parties to resolve electoral problems before they grow and create frustration.

Prime Minister Dore noted that sort of frustration is precisely what he is trying to avoid. He said he does not want the loser of next month's second round to say that he lost because of administrative deficiencies. He said he categorically refuses to allow any potential deficiencies to be attributed to his Ministry of Territorial Affairs.

Guinea's military leader, General Sekouba Konate, has not yet decided whether to issue such a decree expanding the transitional government's role in a vote that is meant to return the country to constitutional order after nearly two years of military rule.