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    Guinean Opposition Leader Wants Elections Within a Year

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

    A prominent Guinean opposition leader says two years is too long a time to hold elections in Guinea. The new military leaders who took over the country last week following the death of President Lansana Conte promised civil society leaders over the weekend that they would hold elections in two years. 

    Guinea’s colonial power France, which holds the rotating chair of the European Union, has reportedly called on the new military rulers to hold elections within six months. 

    Sydia Toure, leader of the opposition Union of Republican Forces party told VOA Guinea, being the poor country it is needs to move quickly toward elections in order to get the support of international financial institutions.

    “We made a communication Thursday of this declaration to the CNDD (the ruling National Council for Democracy and Development) telling them that we think that two years is too long, and we hope that we can have new presidential elections within one year in Guinea. We are working on the electoral issues, and we think that if everything can be done from now to April or May, I think we can have elections in September,” he said.

    Toure said the opposition parties sent their concerns to the new military leadership. He said the opposition is hoping to meet with junta leaders sometime this week.

    He said the opposition parties made it clear in their statement why Guinea should have elections as soon as possible.

    “After the coup, there is nothing else left for the country. Guinea is a poor country. We need to have elections quickly and have a new government so we can go through the process of the World and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the European Union. We explained to them that it is necessary to go quickly because this year Guinea will finance all its expenditures by internal revenue,” he said.

    Toure said the opposition parties support the new military leaders but not if the military wants to have elections in two years.

    “We support them to have this change, but we don’t support them for two years. We are supporting them to have new elections for the country, and I think they can understand that,” Toure said.

    Even though the Guinean opposition is believed to be fragmented, still Toure said the opposition would be ready for an election by the end of 2009.

    Toure said the opposition parties would like for the international community to condition any assistance to the new military leadership on it having elections as soon as possible.

    “If this is the case we think that we have to support. We said to ECOWAS president (Mohamed Ibn Chambas) yesterday. He was in Conakry. We had a meeting with him. We said if we can go to elections during 2009, we want people to support them,” Toure said.


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