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Early Results Show Close Race for Guinea Presidency

Guineans wait for the results of the election in front of the town hall of Motato, a suburb of Conakry where electoral officials collected and verified ballots from regional polling stations, 9 Nov 2010.

The first results from Guinea's presidential election show a close race between the country's former prime minister and a long-time opposition leader.

With less than 10 percent of votes reported, former prime minister Cellou Diallo has a slight lead over opposition leader Alpha Conde. Mr. Diallo won most of the expatriate vote reported from 12 consulates abroad, while Mr. Conde won all five districts reported so far.

Guinea's electoral commission and international observers hope the transparency of Sunday's vote will convince both candidates to abide by their promise to accept the results.

Siaka Toumany Sangare is the president of Guinea's electoral commission.

In the interest of transparency, Sangare says three copies of all results were produced: one for each candidate's representative and one for the electoral commission tabulation.

Sangare says both candidates had permanent representatives in the counting hall 24 hours a day to examine the results. Nothing is hidden, he says, everything is open to everyone.

Former Nigerian leader Yakubu Gowon helped observe this election for the Carter Center. He says Guinea's electoral commission - which is known as the CENI - has done everything it can to give both candidates confidence in the validity of the outcome.

"The CENI adopted a transparent communications strategy to inform the public and dispel rumors because they spread uncontrollably. The inclusion of representatives of both candidates' alliances at every step of the electoral process increased transparency and should allow both candidates and their supporters to more readily accept the results," Gowon said.

Mr. Diallo's campaign is already contesting results from two districts that have not yet been reported. Foday Fofana is a spokesman for the campaign.

In the commune of Matoto, Fofana says Conde officials used lemon juice to wash indelible ink from the fingers of Conde supporters so they could vote twice.

Mr. Diallo and Mr. Conde are from Guinea's two largest ethnic groups, and violence between their supporters delayed this vote several times. Security forces have been on alert since Sunday's poll to prevent further clashes.

Final results are due by midnight Wednesday.