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Election Observer Calls for Patience During Guinea Vote Counting

People walk in front of posters for the presidential elections and instructions on the voting card, Conakry, 25 Jun 2010

The co-chairman of the U.S.-based Carter Center poll monitoring team has called on Guinea’s political parties to patiently wait for the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to declare the results of the presidential election before taking any action.

John Stremlau, Vice President for Peace Programs at the Carter Center, said Guinea’s constitution stipulates that the electoral body has 72 hours to declare the final results of Sunday’s vote.

“They are going to be posting them [results] at the polling stations, and it could come very quickly, but we are not sure. They have not done this procedure. This is the first open election in the history of Guinea. So, all we know is, under the constitution, the CENI, the electoral commission, has to deliver results within 72 hours of the closing of the polls,” he said.

Stremlau also said that Guinea’s electoral body deployed a sophisticated electoral recording system that significantly enhances how rapid CENI releases the final results of Sunday’s vote.

He said, despite unsubstantiated reports of violence, the election was largely peaceful devoid of intimidation or harassment.

“We [Carter Center] won’t take speculations from radio or speculations from observer groups that are just looking at a few isolated polling stations. We want the electoral commission to render a judgment and we are telling all the parties and the public to please respect the constitutional process,” he said.

Guinea’s military ruler, General Sekouba Konate, recently signed a decree setting 27 June as the date for the elections after consultations with the electoral commission. The commission also proposed 18 July for a second round runoff, if any of the candidates fail to win over 50 percent of the presidential vote cast.

The military leader reportedly urged the presidential aspirants to help prevent violence during the election process.

Analysts say this is Guinea’s first free and fair presidential vote after gaining independence from colonial power France in 1958.

Carter Center’s Stremlau said Guineans were pleased to have voted in a free election during Sunday’s vote.

“Inspiring will be my word. They’ve been patient, they’ve been enormously good natured and I think genuinely relieved because they have never had a vote in this country, which was not rigged by the government in power. So, that there is a sense that they really want change and they are in such a good mood,” Stremlau said.