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Guinea Presidential Candidates Call for Calm as Voters Await Results

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

Both of Guinea's presidential candidates are calling on their supporters to stay calm as the country awaits final results from Sunday's vote. The candidates met separately with officials from the International Criminal Court.

International Criminal Court deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is in Guinea as part of a preliminary investigation into possible crimes against humanity during the killing of more than 150 opposition demonstrators 14 months ago.

But Bensouda says she is also here to try and prevent additional ethnic violence once the final results of Sunday's vote are announced.

"This is to emphasize first the preventative mandate of the prosecutor and to encourage the Guinean authorities to consolidate so far the peace that is surrounding the elections," she said.

The ICC delegation met separately with both presidential candidates. Former prime minister Cellou Diallo says his supporters well understand the need for peace.

Mr. Diallo says he is concerned about what could happen if the procedures and rules of this election are not respected. That, he says, could lead to disorder.

Mr. Diallo's opponent in this race is long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde.

Mr. Conde says his campaign has always told its supporters to remain calm because he says that is the way to bring Guinea to democracy and freedom.

Election results so far show Mr. Conde trailing Mr. Diallo by fewer than 100,000 votes. Many of the first returns came from areas where Mr. Diallo was expected to do well. So the race has tightened with the addition of results from districts where Mr. Conde has strong support.

Five days after Sunday's vote there is still no clear winner. But the country has remained calm with no repeat of the earlier violence between rival supporters that delayed this vote.

Electoral commission president Siaka Toumany Sangare says "many more" results will be announced late Friday, dismissing suggestions that the process is behind schedule.

Sangare says Guinea's Supreme Court has determined that the electoral law's 72-hour deadline for announcing results begins only when the last vote is received by electoral officials. Because there are still four districts yet to report, Sangare says there is no delay.

Those four remaining results are from embassies in France, Holland, and Belgium, as well as the district of Siguiri.

Thousands of members of Mr. Diallo's ethnic group were driven from their homes in Siguiri and Kouroussa during pre-election violence. The Diallo campaign wants those results annulled because it says it was unable to post representatives at all of the polling stations there. The Conde campaign says the electoral commission guaranteed the ability of all displaced people to vote by opening special polling stations for them.

Sangare says the commission has not responded to requests to annul those votes because returns from Siguiri and Kouroussa have not yet been examined. He says that will happen Friday.

Electoral commission results reporter El Hadji Koromoa Foumba says he understands voter frustration at waiting for results but says officials are taking the time to do their job properly.

Foumba says the commission needs to be truthful when publishing results instead of rushing to give out figures that will be contested later. He says there will always be people who challenge the results. That is the right of all political parties. But Foumba says the commission wants to release only results it believes in.

The goal now is to have a winner in this contest some time before Monday morning.