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October 11, 2010

Guinea Seeks New Election Chief Days Before Scheduled Poll

by Ricci Shryock

Nearly half of Guinea's Electoral Commission members have signed a petition asking to elect a new head for the commission. The demand comes less than two weeks before the country is scheduled to hold presidential elections on October 24.

As official campaigning began for Guinea's presidential elections on Monday, a dozen members of Guinea's National Independent Electoral Commission, the commission charged with organizing and overseeing the presidential election, are calling for their current head, Lounceny Camara, to step down.

The members signed a petition that accuses Camara of causing disagreements between the country's two presidential candidates.

The commission's head of Communications, Thierno Saidou Bayo, said in the interest of the commission's neutrality and clean image, they should elect a new president to head the body.

The signed petition stipulates that three of the committee's members, including Lounceny Camara, should not be allowed to head up the commission.  Bayo added the objective is to salvage the commission's independence by choosing a president who will be accepted by the majority and will help to calm tensions.

Camara's election to head the commission divided the organization, and presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo has accused him of supporting rival candidate Alpha Conde.

Also on Monday, the two presidential candidates declared their intent to form a unity government no matter who wins the October 24 contest. Both men said that if elected, they would include the other in their government.