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ECOWAS Committed to Guinea’s Vote

  • Peter Clottey

Guinea's acting president General Sekouba Konate, left, speaks with Prime Minister of the transitional government Jean Marie Dore during the inauguration ceremony of Camp Boiro in Conakry, 26 Jun 2010 (file photo)

A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said the regional bloc is holding discussions with Guinea’s interim government, electoral officials as well as all stakeholders to ensure a peaceful presidential round-off vote.

Sonny Ugoh, communications director of ECOWAS also called for calm following three days of scattered fighting and looting, reportedly sparked by another delay in the country's presidential run-off election.

“What is important is for all the stakeholders to work together to agree on a date, go ahead on election day, vote for the candidate of their choice, wait for the results of the election, and then if anybody has any issue of the elections of course there are procedures to seek a redress. So we can only encourage them to wait for the day of election and go and vote for the candidate of their choice, he said.”

Ugoh described the violence as unfortunate, saying “it does not in any way contribute to promoting peace and security in Guinea.”

Local media reported Monday that relative calm had been restored after security forces began their patrol following violence in the capital, Conakry and at least four other towns over the past few days.

Communications director Ugoh said the regional bloc wants to ensure peace since, he said, Guinea’s instability could be felt throughout the entire West African sub-region.

“We have engaged with the people of Guinea, we have engaged with the stakeholders and we will continue to engage with them because we know that it is important for the stability of West Africa if Guinea returns to constitutional rule. It is important for us so that we can move ahead with the challenges of development. That is what is paramount for us.”

The latest delay was announced last Friday, two days before the country was due to vote. Elections Commission chief General Siaki Toumany Sangare said voting was not feasible because of problems with voter registration.

Both candidates have called on their supporters to remain calm while the electoral commission tries to determine a new election date. The election is meant to return Guinea to civilian rule after years of dictators and 22 months of a military junta. The first round in June went smoothly.

However, preparations for the second round have been hampered by logistical problems, election-related violence, and the death of the original electoral commission chairman in September.

Sangare, who comes from Mali, took over the commission just last week, after Diallo said his predecessor favored Conde.

Diallo won the first-round election with 44 percent of the vote. Conde was second with 18 percent.