Accessibility links

Breaking News

Guinea Opposition Rejects Electoral Commission

Opposition leaders in Guinea are protesting the creation of a new elections commission to supervise local elections in December. They say the body falls short of their hopes of an independent institution.

Guinea's opposition parties, the parliamentary majority, and civil society will all have seven members each on the new National Autonomous Elections Commission, known by its French acronym CENA. In addition, three seats have been reserved for representatives of President Lansana Conte's administration.

The country's so-called radical opposition has called the new body ready made for a victory of Mr. Conte's party in local elections set for later this year.

Opposition leader Jean-Marie Dore says the CENA, which was created by presidential decree this month, is useless.

Mr. Dore says it is not so much the composition of the body that is worrisome.

He says the commission will not have sufficient control over the practical aspects of the elections, including, he says, the declaration of results. He says, until these powers are given, there cannot be fair elections in Guinea.

The opposition has been calling for the creation of an independent elections commission, to be known as CENI, which would be free of the influence of Mr. Conte's administration.

Guinea's communications minister, Aisatou Bella Diallo says, at the root of the disagreement over the body is a simple question of terminology.

She says, what is essential, is that balanced, and well organized elections be held.

Guinea had been due to receive nearly two-million dollars from the European Union to organize the local polls, on the condition that they be organized by an independent commission.

The minister in charge of local elections, Kiridi Bongoura, says, after the inclusion of the opposition and civil society on the commission, all parties should now be satisfied.

The opposition boycotted presidential elections in 2003, after the constitution was changed two-years earlier to extend the presidential term to seven years, and remove age and term limits. The measures have widely been viewed as a way for the aging Mr. Conte to remain in power within the constitution.

He has ruled Guinea since taking power in a bloodless coup 21 years ago.

Opposition leaders say they have not ruled out boycotting the local polls if an independent commission is not appointed.