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October 20, 2010

Guinea’s Electoral Chief to Meet Candidates Friday

by Peter Clottey

A human rights activist said Guinea’s newly appointed electoral commission chairman is scheduled to meet Friday with both presidential aspirants before announcing whether the run-off vote could proceed as planned on Sunday.

Attorney Thierno Balde, president of Guinea’s Research Institute on Democracy and the Rule of Law, a non-governmental organization, said Guineans are expressing concerns about another election delay in Sunday’s vote.

“Yesterday, he (new electoral commission chairman) met the electoral commission and the members of the transitional council, and he is supposed to meet today with the two political parties. And then he is expected to make an announcement whether he will be able to announce a new date for the election or if it will be held (on) Sunday,” Balde said.

General Siaka Toumany Sangare, the new chairman of Guinea’s Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) reportedly chaired a discussion with officials of the electoral body Thursday on whether to hold the country's presidential run-off vote on Sunday as scheduled.

Sangare later met with interim Prime Minister Jean Marie-Dore. Attorney Balde said the logistical challenges could derail Sunday’s vote.

Sangare's appointment this week ended a political dispute that threatened to derail the run-off for a third time in three months. Presidential candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo said the previous commission chief was biased in favor of his opponent, Alpha Conde.

Balde said Guineans are anxious to vote in Sunday’s presidential run-off.

“In fact, most of the people will like really this election to be held on Sunday. But, technically, there might be some issues because since there was lack of a legitimate president (of electoral body) for weeks some of the measures that were supposed to be taken put on hold. And now there is a new president he has to make sure that all of the steps will be taken,” he said.

Efforts to hold the vote have also been marred by logistical problems and election-related violence. Police Tuesday fired on pro-Diallo demonstrators in the capital of Conakry, killing two and wounding dozens more.

Both candidates continued campaigning Thursday while officials talked in Conakry. Mr. Diallo won the first round of the presidential election in June with 44 percent of the vote. Mr. Conde was second with 18 percent.

Sunday’s vote will be Guinea's first multi-party election after more than 50 years of dictatorship or military rule.