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Guinea Ruling Party Wins Landslide Victory in Local Elections

Results from Guinea's local elections held earlier this month reflect an overwhelming victory by the country's ruling party. Opposition parties had argued that the vote was rigged, and the results have caused little surprise in the capital, Conakry.

The results from Guinea's local elections announced late Tuesday showed President Lansana Conte's Party for Unity and Progress, or PUP, had taken a vast majority of the seats up for grabs in December 18 election.

Guinea is divided into rural development communities in the countryside and communes in urban areas.

The PUP took 31 of 38 communes and 241 out of a total of 303 rural development communities, or RDC's. Overall voter turnout was just over 58 percent, said the Minister for Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Kiridi Bangoura.

The Rally of the Guinean People, headed by longtime opposition leader Alpha Conde, finished a distant second taking three communes and 35 RDC's.

Journalist Maseco Conde covered the election and says few people were surprised by the PUP's victory.

"It's a strong victory for the ruling party," Mr. Conde said. "But the results were nothing more than a formality for most observers."

Opposition leaders had decried government interference on election day. However there has been little reaction to the announcement of the results from opposition parties.

Mr. Conde say, that does not mean the opposition is satisfied with the election.

"Alpha Conde is not happy at all," he said. "And the same goes for other opposition parties. But they already knew no change would happen on the government side."

Local and municipal elections, unlike national elections in Guinea, are organized by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization. Some opposition leaders said, even before the vote, that this would make it impossible to have a fair election.

Guinea has been singled out by many experts as the West African sub-region's next potential trouble spot following civil wars in neighboring Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast. Speculation over the health of the country's longtime ruler President Conte, a smoker and diabetic, is rife. And no clear line of succession exists.