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November 14, 2010

Conde Wins Guinea Presidential Election

Guinea's electoral commission said long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde has won the country's first democratic vote. Meanwhile, supporters of the losing candidate clashed Monday with riot police.

Electoral commission president Siaka Toumany Sangare said Mr. Conde won more than 52 percent of the vote, while his challenger - former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo - won 47 percent.

Sangare declared Mr. Conde the provisional winner of last Sunday's run-off election, pending certification of the results by Guinea's supreme court. Conde supporters celebrated the win after their candidate had trailed Mr. Diallo during a week of provisional results, slowly tightening the race from 100,000 votes to 50,000 votes to fewer than 24,000 votes before finally finishing ahead.

Many Diallo supporters were angry about the outcome.

Earlier Monday, when the results were widely known, but had not been officially announced, Diallo supporters burned tires in one of the capital's main streets and threw stones at riot police near Conakry's Hamdallaye Mosque. Security forces responded with tear gas, chasing demonstrators from a gasoline station into neighborhoods where they fired more tear gas.

Guinea's military rulers have banned all public demonstrations.

Before the announcement of final results late Monday, both candidates declared themselves the winner.

Mr. Conde won four of five communes in the capital, all but one of the prefectures in lower Guinea, all of the prefectures in the forest region and all of the prefectures in upper Guinea. He said everyone in Guinea knows who won the election.

Mr. Diallo withdrew his party from vote counting on Sunday, saying it had evidence of widespread fraud.

On Monday, Mr. Diallo said that because the electoral commission had not annulled results, which he said were fraudulent, his campaign removed those results itself and found him to be the winner.

Mr. Diallo likely will appeal the results of the vote before Guinea's supreme court.

The election is meant to return the country to civilian rule, nearly two years after soldiers took power here.