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October 27, 2010

Guinea Announces New Run-Off Election Date

by James Butty

Journalist Mamadou Dian Balde says this time around the two candidates, Cellou Dalien Diallo and Alpha Conde will accept the new date

Guinea's government has announced that the country’s long-delayed presidential run-off election will take place on November 7.

A government official made the announcement Wednesday night on television.

Guinea's second round vote had been postponed four times since July because of political disputes, logistical problems, and election-related street violence.

Mamadou Dian Balde, editor-in-chief of the Independent and Democrat newspapers in the Guinean capital, Conakry, said he believes this time around the two candidates, former Prime Minister Cellou Dalien Diallo and longtime opposition leader Alpha Conde will accept the new date.

“General Sekouba Konate has announced that the second part of the presidential election will take place on November 7. That is official. I think that the two candidates Alpha Conde and Cellou Dalien Diallo will agree with this new date,” he said.

Earlier this week, the electoral commission proposed October 31 (this Sunday) for the election, but that date was not ratified by Guinea's acting president General Sekouba Konate.

Balde said candidate Diallo objected to the October 31 date because of the violence days earlier that he said had been carried out against his supporters.

Balde said although the violence had since stopped, many Guineans are concerned it will resume after the results of the election have been announced.

“The violence has been stopped since yesterday [Tuesday], but people are afraid because they think that after the election, the results will be a problem, and people think that there will be violence again,” Balde said.

Balde said the political tension in Guinea has been high, especially between the Malinke and Fulah ethnic groups.

“People want to go to election, but since one month, the Malinke people and Fulah people are not on good terms now because of this electoral campaign. So that’s why the situation had been deteriorating,” he said.

He said Guinea’s new electoral commission chief General Siaka Toumani Sangare, has assured the government and the Guinean people that his commission is ready to have a free and fair election despite many logistical problems.

Balde expressed uncertainty that Guinean security forces can keep the peace on election day.

“Guinean security forces don’t like to keep peace because the violence of this week, they were there but witnesses said that the armed forces didn’t do anything to keep the peace,” Balde said.