News / Africa

UN Calls for Calm as Guinea Election Postponed

The United Nations is calling for calm in Guinea after the suspension of campaigning and the postponement of presidential elections following violence between supporters of the two remaining candidates.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling on voters in Guinea to stay calm amid uncertainty over a second round of presidential elections that have been postponed without the announcement of a new date.

In a written statement, the Secretary General warns those who may attempt to disrupt an orderly and peaceful transition that they would be held accountable by Guineans and by the international community as a whole.

This vote was delayed, in part, because of two days of violence between supporters of former prime minister Cellou Diallo and long-time opposition leader Alpha Conde that killed one person and injured at least 50. The electoral commission suspended campaigning last Sunday after police used tear gas to break up those clashes.

The violence followed the conviction of two senior electoral officials accused of falsifying results from June's first round of voting.

Conakry's military governor Sekou Resco Camara told a meeting of local leaders that security forces will not allow that violence to be repeated. Camara said military patrols are now conducting a neighborhood-by-neighborhood search for illegal weapons in the capital because of last Sunday's violence.

But it is not just the political violence that is delaying this presidential run-off. The electoral commission is still awaiting delivery of 450,000 new polling cards that are scheduled to arrive Sunday or Monday.

The process is further complicated by the destruction of an untold number of voter cards and ballot papers in a fire at an electoral commission warehouse Thursday. Authorities say the  fire was started accidentally by an electrician.

The electoral commission was to meet with interim prime minister Jean-Marie Dore Thursday to announce a new date for the vote, but that meeting never happened. So both candidates await not only the resumption of campaigning but an election date toward which to campaign.

Makale Traore is Conde's campaign manager. Traore said it is not a question of an election date. What is important is that Conde's party wants to organize elections in Guinea that, for the first time in history, are transparent. Traore says delaying the poll will give voters more confidence in its eventual outcome.

Traore says the entire world has seen the irregularities in the first round of the electoral process, so Conde's party is insisting on certain conditions before the second round.

Among those conditions are additional polling stations in rural areas where some people had to travel too far to vote in the first round. The electoral commission is expanding the number of rural polling stations in consultation with both candidates, and that too is delaying the process.

Diallo is seen as the front-runner in this second round, having won more than 40 percent of the first-round vote compared to Conde's less than 20 percent. Diallo says electoral delays may discourage private sector investment in mining, which is Guinea's main source of foreign currency.

Diallo said everyone in Guinea should act democratically. They have all fought for people to be able to choose their leaders. But going into such a competition, Diallo says candidates should accept the fact that they might lose. And if they do, they should accept the results.

Acting military ruler General Sekouba Konate has been trying to return Guinea to civilian rule nearly two years after Captain Moussa Dadis Camara took power in a military coup. General Konate has reaffirmed his support for the electoral process and says the military will support whoever emerges as the winner.

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